Dune of dread

Residents concerned about the safety of their children.

Rocklands residents want a dune situated between two schools, which has become a hide-out and look-out for drug dealers and other criminals, to be removed.

The dune, which is bordered by Ionian, Coral and Hamerkop streets, abuts Spineview Primary School and Cedar High School.

Last month, children playing at the foot of the dune in Ionian Street, found a naked man who was allegedly pestering children playing in the nearby park and masturbating in full view of the children and residents.

The man was arrested by local police after he allegedly tried to grab a young girl.

Community worker Isaac Langeveldt, said people hid in the bushes.

“They watch people. They bring stolen vehicles here and strip it,” he said.

Resident Alexander Gelant said the dune was a danger to his children.

“Drug addicts bug the people for money to feed their habit. They cause trouble and over the years it has been dubbed the bush of evil.”

André Arendse, chairperson of Rocklands Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said the dune served no purpose.

“We want residents to benefit from this land. There is a high unemployment rate, there is a demand for housing and we the community can be a part of making a difference,” he said.

Mr Arendse said he would like to contribute to the redesign of the dune, which could also be used for aquaponic farming, a system that combines conventional aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment, and urban farming.

He said it was time residents took ownership of their open spaces and told authorities what they wanted to be done with the land. “They (politicians) must not play political games. They must start sustaining and beautifying our areas. It takes years for infrastructure to be built in Mitchell’s Plain and we are tired of waiting,” he said.

Danny Christians, councillor for Ward 81, which includes Rocklands and parts of Portland, has had this matter on the Wolfgat Sub-council agenda for more than a year. “The City has been dragging its feet in adhering to what the people want,” Mr Christians told the Plainsman.

He has been lobbying the community to support his motion to have the dune removed and said the biggest request from the community is for housing. “This is prime land for affordable housing,” he said.

Mr Christians said the City’s nature conservation department confirmed that the dune did not have biodiversity status and that indigenous plants could be replanted elsewhere.

The Plainsman asked the City why nothing had been done since the motion was tabled. Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, encouraged residents to meet with Mr Christians to discuss interventions that would best benefit them and investigate ways in which they can assist with the maintenance.

“Both short- and long-term objectives should be addressed. Small, isolated short-term initiatives alone will not make a difference,” Ms Nieuwoudt said.

Sub-council chairperson, Sheval Arendse, said due process needed to be followed, should there be a request for a dune to be removed.

“An applicant would need to apply for mining rights, which would include obtaining environmental authorisation, and the final approval of such an application would rest with the Department of Mineral Resources,” he said.

He said sub-council did not have the authority to approve the removal of a dune.

In 2011 sand and aggregate mining company Maccsand lost its bid to mine sand from the Rocklands dune and another dune in Westridge. This followed a protracted period after Maccsand was awarded a mining permit in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act in 2007 to mine the Rocklands dune and another permit was issued to mine the Westridge dune in 2008.

The Rocklands dune was zoned as public open spaces in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO) and certain erven on the Westridge dune were also zoned as public open spaces and as rural.

In February 2009, Maccsand commenced mining on the Rockland dune. The City of Cape Town, however, successfully instituted interdict proceedings restraining Maccsand from mining until the dunes were rezoned. That judgment interdicted Maccsand from removing sand from the dunes before getting rezoning approval from the City, in terms of Lupo and approval from the province in terms of the National Environmental Management Act.

The matter was taken on appeal by the mining company and the then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu but in 2011 the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the first part of their appeal relating to Lupo, saying that the mining act did not “provide a surrogate municipal planning function that displaces Lupo”. The Constitutional Court upheld the Supreme Court’s judgment in April 2012.

Ms Nieuwoudt said the case established a principle in law concerning the constitutional functions of municipalities. “The case proved that an approval in terms of other legislation does not override the constitutional municipal planning powers enjoyed by the City of Cape Town and other local authorities,” she said.

BLOB There will be a public meeting at Rocklands civic centre on Thursday February 28, at 7pm, to discuss this matter . Call Mr Christians on 084 411 1166 for more details.