We want to breathe, say residents

2019-08-06 06:00
Plato interacting with residentsPHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

Plato interacting with residentsPHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

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Keeping his promise, Cape Town’s executive mayor Dan Plato went on a walkabout of Heideveld, which he vowed to take last month (“Mayor Listens to Residents”, People’s Post, Tuesday 30 July).

He entered houses, interacted with owners who spoke to him about their household problems, and took down their names. Without giving too much away, Plato said the plan was to listen to residents’ complaints and then to take it from there.

“I do not want to say too much right now but you pick up the sentiments, you pick up the issues. There are several issues and I need to focus on those issues,” Plato said as he walked through the area.

Plato’s door-to-door visits were in response to a collective wish by residents and community organisations. It allowed residents from the subsidised housing project, which they moved into in 2016, the opportunity to complain to the mayor about a range of housing issues.

Complaints included the lack of ventilators in the houses and cracks in the walls. They also alleged that a promise made when they moved in by the City to subsidise the houses from the value of R120 000 never happened. Instead, they were served with papers with bills, they alleged.

They also claimed that there were discrepancies in the housing allocation process. Some people were not given houses after being on the waiting list from as early as 1993.

They claimed that houses were given to younger people who had only been on the waiting list from 2014 onwards.

Resident Vanessa Adriaanse, the founder of Mothers for Justice X a community organisation X said that they had invited the mayor to expose Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses, whom she described as “doing nothing”.

According to Adriaanse, they have been trying to approach Moses to inform him about their grievances but she alleged that he was always unavailable.

“He is either in Johannesburg or we do not know. Today he is here because he does not have a choice; the mayor is here,” said Adriaanse.

She expressed the hope that a proper follow-up meeting would be held after Plato’s visit, allowing them the chance to engage with him extensively. She also wishes for a fresh start in their community.

Another frustrated resident is Faisah Gamildien.She complained about the lack of ventilators in the houses. The 79-year-old said water is sometimes cut off and that makes life difficult.

“I am old and live alone. The electricity that has been installed in this house shocks me when I walk barefoot,” she said.

Ward councillor Moses rubbished residents’ claims that he was not readily available to the community. He said that people needed to understand that as a member of the council, he had other responsibilities and meetings that he needed to attend to.

He added that residents needed to make an appointment to meet him. He was, however, quick to emphasise that he was an official for the people to interact with him.

“My office is open on Tuesday. Today was my office day. I have been in the office where people visited me. Even if my phone is off, there is someone in the office. I have community members who can vouch as to how many times I have seen them,” Moses said.

He said he was not certain as to when the council would get back to the residents with a report on their grievances.

“There were many concerns raised and they went to certain levels within the administration.

“We have asked the mayor to come out and see the plight that our communities live in and to see whether the mayor can help us address these issues. In August, there will be various sessions with the communities,” Moses added.

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