Mixed emotions on Plato’s visit

2019-04-30 06:01
Mayor Dan Plato spoke to the teams who are helping to improve conditions in Lavender Hill.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Mayor Dan Plato spoke to the teams who are helping to improve conditions in Lavender Hill.PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Mayor Dan Plato was met with mixed emotions from residents as he led a walkabout through Lavender Hill.

Residents and government officials rallied in the crime-ridden area last Thursday – just hours after two murders occurred – to touch base with residents on the challenges they face regarding service delivery, housing and gang violence.

Community activist and founder of the non-profit organisation, Guardians of the National Treasure, Ralph Bouwers shared his opinion on initiatives that could improve the community. “The youth needs complete, bordered support – at least a five to 10 year programme to work out the problems and get the youth to be different young adults,” he explains.

He says that the underlying problem in the area is a generational one that has seen the current young adults thrown into gangsterism and that this problem is now spilling over into the young children who are also falling victim to the same social ills.

Resident Heidi De Mink shared the same sentiment, saying that the biggest issues are the gangsterism and violence, as well as sexually violent crimes. “There are broken women in our community – the rape victims who come to the church,” she says.

Pastor Basil Leukes voiced his concerns about the social ills in the area, referring to the shooting that took place near the Pontac Court flats at 03:00.

“Innocent people being killed for no reason. People are unsafe and they are scared in their own community. They are all walking in fear of where the shots are going to come from and when they are going happen.”

De Mink felt that the previous walkabout by the Mayor had already improved the community and allowed for people to find jobs, but this was not the opinion shared by all.

Echoing through the doorways of the flats were murmurs of dissatisfaction. A handful of residents reluctant to take part in the walk expressed their opinions from the confines of their homes, saying the government are back in the area but still nothing ever seems to improve.

When asked about these opinions Plato says: “They are worried about safety and the youth sitting on the street corners. I said I will come back with my outreach team to spend the day in Lavender Hill.”

Overall, Plato felt that the walkabout was a success and hopes to tackle the issues that remain afterwards.

“I think it was brilliant. I had the opportunity to engage with the community leaders and other interested people and they took me around to look at service delivery concerns – the stairs, the railings and the general upgrades of the flats. I went into one flat where a piece of the roof was falling out, so they are genuine concerns.”

He also offered a look into the near future, saying by the end of May he hopes to deploy another 200 law enforcement officers in addition to the 100 that were recently deployed in Bonteheuwel this month.

By next January he hopes for the appointment of another 150 officers to complement the police force’s efforts.

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