Civic calls for a wall

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith, Sub-council 23 chairman Elton Jansen and Lieutenant Colonel Harry Brickles, from SAPS.

A Mitchell’s Plain civic group has called for the Isiqalo informal settlement to be walled off from surrounding suburbs after violent protests in the area.

“A wall could be built to solve this. Something needs to be done about this issue,” New Woodlands Ratepayers Association chairman Shahiem Van Nelson said at a meeting held at the Rocklands Civic Centre last Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Mitchell’s Plain residents were calling for Isiqalo’s removal, he said.

The meeting, which involved various community groups, the police and City officials, was held to discuss the impact of ongoing protest action in Isiqalo.

Mr Van Nelson said the City of Cape Town had a duty to protect the Mitchell’s Plain community. “They are the people in power and they need to look after their residents,” he said.

Isiqalo residents took to the streets in protest last month when their electricity supply was cut to resolve a power outage that affected both Weltevreden and Isiqalo.

The protest backed up traffic along the R300, Jakes Gerwel Drive and Highlands Drive.

Brenda King, a member of Mitchell’s Plain Representatives, a group that was formed in response to the latest protests, said the police had failed to act against those protesters who had broken the law.

The Isiqalo community are affected by electricity and power outages, but JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said people there were stealing electricity through illegal connections.

“We have acted to remove illegal tampering which does contribute to the protest action,” he said.

Sub-council 23 chairman Elton Jansen said SAPS did not want to go into Isiqalo as it became dangerous at times.

“We need to work on this issue as a collective, we must work out a plan on how we’re going to deal with this. Isiqalo must be included in this plan too,” he said.

Lentegeur Community Police Forum chairman Byron de Villiers said shacks should be stopped from mushrooming in the area.

The same opportunities given to Isiqalo backyard dwellers should be given to Mitchell’s Plain backyard dwellers too, he told the meeting.

The meeting heard suggestions for City Law Enforcement to have a permanent presence in the area.

Mr Smith said the police should investigate crimes committed during the protest.

The camera at the intersection of the R300 and Jakes Gerwel Drive was vandalised almost weekly although it was currently operating, said Mr Smith.

Once new cameras were installed, those responsible for the unrest should be arrested, he said. Not all Isiqalo residents were caught up in the protests, he added.

Lentegeur SAPS Constable Felicia Adams said police had made no arrests following last month’s protest on the R300, Jakes Gerwel Drive and Highlands Drive.

The Isiqalo leadership arrived late at the meeting and did not ask any questions or make comments.

But in a phone interview with the Plainsman on Wednesday, Thelma Tshabile, chairwoman of Isiqalo Community Representatives, said Isiqalo residents did not want to be walled in as it would not be safe for them.

“If a wall were built, it would not be safe for us as a community as it puts us at risk of criminal activity.”

She said the community felt neglected and frustrated at not being included in the Kosovo Housing Project.

“We need electricity and water. We do not want unrest with the residents of Mitchell’s Plain, going forward we want to be included and part of the planning.”