“How can the dogs of Sea Point receive better treatment than the people of Imizamo Yethu?” This is one of the questions directed at Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis during a public engagement meeting held recently.
Hill-Lewis addressed dozens of residents at the Sea Point Civic Centre on Monday 6 June. Loadshedding and homelessness were some of the key issues on the agenda.
The meeting was also attended by Mayco members from various departments.
During a question-and-answer session, one resident who introduced himself as Christopher, asked Hill-Lewis why Imizamo Yethu residents in Hout Bay lacked basic services while in the Atlantic Seaboard there’s “taps where dogs can drink from”.
“If you go to Hout Bay, a nice suburb, the roads are excellently maintained, it’s clean, the water works, it’s beautiful. Then you just cross the road into Imizamo Yethu and it’s a different world. The roads are littered with potholes. There’s literal faeces running in the street and this is not a new issue and something the City has failed to address for years,” says Christopher.
Hill-Lewis responded by saying the City is doing all it can to support disadvantaged communities across the city.
“Having worked in many communities like Imizamo Yethu, I can tell you first-hand how the City pours resources into infrastructure and basic services in the poorest parts of the city. Not only infrastructure and services, but also free basic services. The budget that was passed recently includes R4,7 billion for free basic services for the poor in Cape Town.”
According to Hill-Lewis, these services are water, electricity, sewage and refuse collection.
Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for water and sanitation, says his department often deals with infrastructure that is being vandalised which he says leads to services being interrupted.
Hill-Lewis also addressed the increasing number of people living on the streets. He says the City’s community services department is currently going around the city from person to person for a personal assessment of each person’s need and circumstances and offer care interventions to help people reintegrate into society.
Hill-Lewis said in the approved budget R142 million was added to the safe space programme over the next three years to “significantly increase” the space.
“Construction on the first expansion has started at Culemborg already. We have just secured our second additional property where we will do a second significant new safe space here in the sub council to expand that bed capacity.”
Sheila Madikana, Reclaim the City member, says she has been occupying Helen Bowden Nurses Home for the past five years. She wanted to know when would social housing be made available for her and many others in her position.
Madikana says she used to rent a small room in Sea Point for R5 000 and when she could no longer afford it, she and her children were left destitute.
“I decided with the group that I am working with to take the Helen Bowden Nurses Home because of the Tafelberg site that we were promised in 2010 that still hasn’t materialised. But we are still fighting a battle for that place. We don’t want to stay for free, we want to pay for electricity and water.”
The mayor says he agrees that the 11 properties that have been earmarked for social housing took “far too long”.
“I have set the challenge to the human settlements team to find at least another 15 properties that are in well located parts of the city for release also for social housing over the coming years. But one thing that we have to understand in South Africa is that there is nothing that the state can now or ever will be able to do to meet the size of the housing demand.
Hill-Lewis said the City would not give its blessing to illegal occupiers and “will not withdraw the illegal occupations bylaw”.