People's Post

‘One street at a time’

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The mural on the corner of Byrnes Avenue and Ottery Road formed part of the #TrashtagWynberg project spearheaded by the Wynberg East Neighbourhood Watch.
The mural on the corner of Byrnes Avenue and Ottery Road formed part of the #TrashtagWynberg project spearheaded by the Wynberg East Neighbourhood Watch.

While the negative effects of the national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been many, one positive outcome is that it forced residents to take stock of their home surroundings.

The Wynberg East Neighbourhood Watch (WENW) hopes this new awareness among residents will lead to greater community involvement. This theory will be tested on Sunday 28 November when the NHW starts up its #TrashtagWynberg project again.

According to Nadia Hassen, a member of the WENW, the interest shown in the notification sent out via various neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, announcing the next clean-up event, has been far greater than when the project was first launched last-year August.

“With people having been stuck at home, they had more time to see how Wynberg East has deteriorated. It has forced them to open their eyes and see that the area isn’t how it used to be,” Hassen says.

The WENW took up the #trashtag challenge, which trended on social media last year. Hassen explains that the WENW’s decision to get involved in the cleaning up of the neighbourhood followed on one of the principles that they learnt during their neighbourhood watch training – the broken window theory. It states that visible signs of disorder and misbehaviour in an environment encourage further disorder and misbehaviour, leading to serious crimes.

“So building on from that, if an area looks well-kept, if it is clear that residents do care, it will be less appealing to criminals,” Hassen explains.

Besides cleaning-up streets every second Sunday up until the lockdown, the #TrashtagWynberg project also gave a makeover to a parking area located on the corner of Byrnes Avenue and Ottery Road.

Salwa Beukes, chair of WENW, explains that the parking area is meant for people who take the train from Wynberg train station. But instead, she says, it was being used by taxi drivers and gamblers. “They would leave the place in a state – litter strewn everywhere. They would urinate and defecate there,” Beukes says.

She says the perimeter walls of the blocks of flats, which border the little nook, were also in need of a coat of paint. Breaking the work up into two phases, the WENW team first focused on ridding this area of litter. Beukes explains they would go there every second Sunday until the number of bags collected each time had diminished from 20 to three. The City of Cape Town was also asked to put up three new signs, clearly indicating that taxis weren’t allowed to park there.

Next, the team began painting the perimeter walls of the bordering flats.

“We were decorating one of the walls with our handprints in paint when we realised that we should try to put up a mural. It is then that one of our residents suggested that her son, Mohamed Hassan, a local graphic designer and mural artist, could help out, free of charge.”

White- and yellow-painted tyres filled with plants and complete with water features made from recycled bottles were also installed to give the area a facelift.

“We just wanted to make it look like a place that people could take pride in,” she adds.

Beukes says taxis still sometimes park there but not as frequently as before. She adds that there have also been some incidents of vandalism. While the lockdown made it difficult to maintain the area, Beukes says they are now again patrolling the area and fixing it up when needed.

“We are always asking the community to get involved and we hope that they will next Sunday,” says Beukes.

Hassen says they will be tackling Ottery Road next. “We have been given some equipment from our ward (63) councillor, Monty Oliver, and the City’s cleaning department,” she adds.

Those who would like to participate in the clean-up can bring along an extra pair of gardening gloves if they have, water to drink and their face masks.

  • To join, call Nadia Hassen on 073 281 2222 or email nadia.hassen@gmail.com.

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