Forum wants stake at Swartklip

The construction company has already started with the installation of underground pipes.

Mitchell’s Plain businesses, community activists and residents want a stake in economic opportunities in the area.

The Mitchell’s Plain Integrated Development Forum (MPIDF) elected a committee and finalised its constitution following a community meeting a month ago.

On Tuesday May 28, two days after having a public meeting, they met with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), which owns the almost 500 hectares of land known as the Swartklip Development – the land previously owned by Denel, on the corner of Swartklip and Morgenster roads.

The forum is now calling on residents, non-government and community-based organisations as well as businesses to give input into their constitution by Wednesday July 3, at 5pm.

They are hoping to have it adopted at their next meeting on Saturday July 13. A venue and time for the meeting are still to be confirmed.

More than 200 people and representatives of 43 local community organisations attended a “call to action” meeting at Imperial Primary School, in Beacon Valley, on Sunday May 26 to elect a body to represent and access opportunities for the greater Mitchell’s Plain.

Community activist Marshall Nelson called the meeting saying: “We are currently missing out on broader opportunities because Mitchell’s Plain is declared divided”.

At the meeting, a committee was formed, with a mandate to explore the business, education and other opportunities happening in Mitchell’s Plain.

Following several meetings since then, Mr Nelson was elected chairperson of the forum, with Lynn Phillips as first deputy chairperson, Séan Achim as second deputy chairperson, Irfaan Mentoor as secretary-general, Sipho Yuze as assistant secretary-general, Rodney Steyn as treasurer and Duwayne Jacobs as head of communications.

Mr Nelson said the mandate is to ensure community participation in economic opportunities.

Speaking to the Plainsman on Saturday June 1, Mr Achim said representatives from the different organisations have put their differences aside and realised that they have to speak with one voice.

He said it was a collaboration of different people, who tried different things to bring Mitchell’s Plain together, and based on those experiences we know that something needed to happen.

Mr Achim, founder, chairperson and chief executive officer of Plein Chamber, said: “We need each other to talk. If we don’t do this, we lose out on opportunities.”

He said the public meeting had given them a mandate to ask questions.

“It is not me, Séan Achim, who needs to make a decision. We have to represent your needs as someone from Mitchell’s Plain. We have to represent the people and say these are the decisions that were made in your absence,” he said.

Mr Achim said a “big carrot” being dangled in Mitchell’s Plain with funding is the building of infrastructure due to happen at the Swartklip Development site.

Two days after the public meeting, the forum met with Acsa, False Bay College, Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), Mitchell’s Plain United Development Forum, and Mandalay Development Forum regarding the Swartklip Development.

On Friday May 31, they received an acknowledgement letter from Acsa, as one of the legitimate representatives from the Mitchell’s Plain community who would be engaged regarding the proposed developments on Swartklip Road.

“As part of due diligence, may we request that you provide us with your committee’s constitution and at a later stage your terms of reference, to ensure that we are truly engaging a mandated structure put forward by the people of Mitchell’s Plain,” read the letter signed by Deon Cloete, general manager at Cape Town International Airport.

On Saturday June 15, the forum held a constitution workshop at Mitchell’s Plain police station’s boardroom. Mr Jacobs said the meeting was successful and that they would like to inform the public about its outcome.

“This forum is the voice of the people,” he said.

He said every sector in society needed to be represented, including early childhood development (ECD), community safety, housing, the unemployed, the youth and different cultural groups.

The forum hopes to create
portfolio committees with sector heads.

“We have experienced representatives, who know policy, know the needs of the community and are established enough to put Mitchell’s Plain first and not be bought over by money or a food parcel,” he said.

Deidre Davids, spokesperson for Acsa, told the Plainsman that the company took ownership of the Swartklip site in October 2016, to help protect and ensure the future expansion of the Cape Town International Airport.

“The company plans to realign the runway – at the time an environmental impact assessment (EIA) revealed that the restrictive noise contours imposed by the proposed realignment of the runway lie directly over a portion of vacant land to the south of Cape Town International Airport,” she said.

Ms Davids said consultants have been appointed to help with an urban design and development framework for the site, which could take up to two years. She said actual development was still a long while off, pending a number of studies that need to be undertaken as well as an environmental impact assessment, which will also include an element of public participation.

“It is our vision that the site will create spaces where people can live, learn, work and play,” she

A large portion of the land is protected environmentally, she said. “But if well planned could become a green space that can be enjoyed by all.”

All of this will be informed by relevant studies and interaction with different stakeholders ranging from the City of Cape Town to neighbouring communities.

Early last year, False Bay College’s Swartklip campus signed a 10-year lease agreement with Acsa for the new campus site on 25 hectares of this land (“Building protest,” Plainsman November 7, 2018).

Ms Davids said they had kicked off the engagement process earlier this month to brief the sub-councils and ward councillors of Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.

“Our engagement plan will include public days, where we will use the opportunity to get input from the broader community so that they can help shape the ultimate urban design,” she said.

After that Acsa would follow
a structured approach and all
legislative procurement requirements.

Acsa has a memorandum of understanding with the KDF to formalise the informal cattle grazing happening on the site and is looking at ways to formalise the cultural initiations happening there.

They also have a memorandum of agreement with the Housing Development Agency (HDA), which will lead all elements of housing. The HDA is a national public sector development agency, established in 2009, that acquires and develops land and project manages the development of housing and human settlements in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including national, provincial and local government as well as with communities, developers, financiers and other affected parties.

The HDA was established by an act of Parliament in 2008 and is accountable through its board to the Minister of Human Settlements.

To comment and contribute to the draft constitution of the MPIDF, contact Mr Jacobs on 064 091 5317 during office hours between 8am and 5pm, email or visit