Ignored by officials

2017-07-18 06:00
Locals wants more tiolets for hygene purposes

Locals wants more tiolets for hygene purposes

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Residents of Egoli informal settlement in Philippi say they are disappointed in ward councillor Elton Jansen. They claim he is not doing much to acknowledge their plea for better services and land.

“Most of our people have been living here for more than 25 years. We cannot let another five years go by without any progress,” says community leader Abraham “Abe” Fransman.

“We need to see more visibility and interaction from him. Our community has been pleading for a meeting to look at the challenges our people face, but he never seems to prioritise it. Jansen is always unavailable or out of the country. Our previous councillors were always on their feet to assist us. We could phone them any time of the night and they would rush through to see to us.

“He only shows up when there’s a fire, but is never available for other issues. We are tired of living like this and sick of this ­treatment.”

These are not the only challenges for the people of Egoli, he says.

“Our people live in an unhygienic environment with up to five families sharing one toilet. We requested more toilets and he promised to organise it. Our elderly are also being mugged in the early hours of the morning, trying to reach a clinic as far as Grassy Park. We asked for a mobile clinic last year, but received no response.

“Kids are exposed to open electrical boxes. A local resident was almost killed during last month’s storm when electrical equipment fell over in front of him.”

Fransman says residents also face issues with land owners and fear that their homes will be removed.

“We have been fighting for years with the government to relocate us to another piece of land. We came on this land in 1996, and it belonged to no-one at the time. In 1999 the owner purchased this land with us on it.

“Because we are based on what is now called ‘private’ land, we are not able to get proper service delivery,” he explains. “We know that owners have rights, but if that owner purchases land with people on, how do they balance that right?

“All we are asking is for Jansen to try harder, and to negotiate with the owners. Explain to them that we have been living here for more than 30 years. We never trespassed on this land; they purchased the land with us on it. Election time, he never mentioned that this was private land; all he spoke about was voting for the DA for better service,” he says.

“My last hope for Philippi is to progress,” Fransman says. “Our ancestors built this place and worked hard. Most of them died on this land. We are fighting a losing battle, but my last bit of power is to go to all informal settlements and to fight for land in Philippi, for we are born and bred in this ­community.”

Jansen says he is surprised by the allegations made by the settlement’s leaders.

“I am giving them – the current leadership – the opportunity to call the people together but to date no meeting date has been confirmed. This call I have made on several occasions. The reason why I requested it, is because informal settlements operate differently,” he explains. “I can call a meeting at any point in time but to avoid unnecessary conflict I asked the leadership to convene a meeting and I will come and address the community. If you don’t work through their leadership, it can cause conflict.”

Jansen says he is not aware of the request for a mobile clinic, but a request for toilets was submitted to the City of Cape Town’s informal settlements department to ­investigate.

He says he is always there to help when needed.

“When there was a fire, I always came out to make sure the community is taken care of and calls the relevant departments to make sure that people get the relief needed,” he says.

“Regarding the hazards in the area, there are allegations by community members and ratepayers that the leadership is responsible for the illegal connections. This is done by opening the electrical boxes themselves.

“They must blame themselves for opening the boxes, tampering with them and illegally connecting to the electricity supply. By doing so they put their own kid’s safety at risk.

“The ratepayers are also very concerned about the illegal connections, and I told the Egoli leadership that it is very important for us as a collective to work together to resolve this matter as there are various parties affected and involved. This includes the informal settlement residents, the ratepayers, the City and the property owners,” he adds.

Jansen says his role is to get everyone to agree on issues before proper services can be delivered in the informal settlement.

“I have been engaging with all parties to resolve these matters that have been going on for almost two decades. The Egoli leadership can’t expect of me to resolve things overnight.

“I have met with one of the property owners who refuses to meet with the current community leadership. I have also explained to the owner that we need permission from the owners to supply electricity and other services on their property to the informal dwellers,” he explains. “There is, however, some concerns and demands from the property owner, which I asked them to put in writing.

“The City cannot provide services and electricity without the owners’ consent. In the absence of such a letter of permission there is nothing that I as ward councillor can do. Until such time we get permission from the owners, we cannot bring services to the camp.”

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