All eyes on Town Centre

Wolfgat Sub-council chairman Solomon Philander, Town Centre Improvement District manager James Loxton, sub-council manager Johnson Fetu and Town Centre precinct manager Surayj Toyer.

It is going to take commuters, pedestrians, hawkers, property owners, tenants and service providers to restore Town Centre to its former glory.

This was an appeal from Wolfgat Sub-council chairman Solomon Philander during a media briefing, on the eve of the first anniversary of the central improvement district (CID), at their office, in Symphony Way, on Friday October 22.

“If everyone plays their part then Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre can be a better place,” he said.

He encouraged users of Town Centre to report crime and by-law contraventions by traders, property owners and service providers.

Mr Philander said permit traders were also using illegal means by trading outside of their trading bays, in the lanes where illegal traders, without the necessary paperwork, were “taking the cream” from shoppers.

“Going into the future we want to divide Town Centre into five blocks, where traders will establish a committee and take responsibility for that particular area’s waste management, cleaning, keeping it crime and grime free,” he said.

Mr Philander said they were in negotiations with the South African Women’s Informal Traders’ Association (SAWITA), Hawkers Against Crime and Mitchell’s Plain United Hawkers’ Forum to form interim committees and to be responsible for certain spaces.

SAWITA was granted managing rights of their business spaces in Fourth Avenue in the Town Centre last year July (“Big plans for trading spaces”, Plainsman July 29, 2020).

“Looking forward we want to keep people accountable within the informal sector. We are talking to CID and traders to take ownership of their space,” he said.

Town Centre Improvement District manager James Loxton said when they started in November last year, priorities were fencing in the business district; preventing vehicular traffic; and ensuring the safety of traders and shoppers.

He said the first commercial shopping centre to have a CID had fallen into disrepair because of a lack of service delivery and law enforcement oversight, driven by fear.

Mr Loxton said the centre was in lockdown at night with limited vehicles entering the space and trading only happening during daylight hours.

“The purpose of the CID is borne out of commercial appetite; to repopulate the oldest non-white shopping centre in South Africa; to restore it to its former glory; and to bring back shoppers to a safe shopping environment,” said Mr Loxton.

He said private property owners were investing into the private/public partnership, including 24/7 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, to have eyes on the perimeter; a dedicated hotline to report any needs, like social development; and having a central point to help Town Centre users access service delivery.

Mr Loxton said the lack of cohesion and accountability of service delivery were initial challenges to turning the Town Centre around but this has since changed with the investment of property owners.

To report crime and by-law contraventions visit the Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre Improvement District office at the Mutual Plain Building, in Symphony Way, their website or call their hotline on 066 468 6565.