She wasn’t there to make promises, said Mayor Patricia de Lille when she met with the Lentegeur community and ward councillor Gouwa Timm on Monday April 4.
The meeting, which was held in the garage of Anne Africa’s Marigold Street home, was held to give residents a chance to raise their concerns about service delivery as part of Ms De Lille’s re-election campaign drive.
“We have for five years run this City,” Ms De Lille said. “Five very short years. A lot has changed but there’s a lot still to be done.”
Before taking questions, Ms De Lille told residents that they needed to take a stand for their own safety.
“Gangs and drugs are a major problem,” she said. “It is our brothers, sisters, cousins that will be hurt until the community takes their safety into their own hands and say; ‘enough is enough’. Something is wrong if two or three merchants live in your streets and sell drugs to your children. We want to evict them and sell those houses to people who need them.”
Resident Ernest Maritz raised a concern about the lack of availability of the civic centre and asked for a sports and recreation centre.
“I am greatly concerned about our kids,” he said. “Our children have nowhere to go but to the streets.”
Mr Maritz told the mayor that he hires the civic centre so that children could play sports in the afternoon but the amount of time that the centre is available is too little.
“I don’t want to only cater for school children,” he said, saying that some adults and seniors had also expressed interest in taking part.
Ms Timm said the only thing the ward was missing was a sports and recreation centre. “We have everything in this ward, a hospital, a swimming pool, but the only thing we don’t have is a multi-purpose centre,” she said.
Ms De Lille responded that she would clear the civic’s bookings so that Mr Maritz could host his activities between 3pm and 5pm in the afternoons and she would arrange that he would no longer have to pay for bookings. She said this was a short-term solution and he should carry on this way until a longer term solution could be found.
Esmerelda Lenderts, who runs a soup kitchen from the wendy house in her yard, said the space, cooking utensils and food donations she received were not enough to meet the needs of the people who came for food.
Ms De Lille said she would arrange that a container be given to her to replace the wendy house she currently worked from. Ms Lenderts was happy with this because she felt the container would be safer than the wendy house.
Ivan Davids was concerned that people wanting to beat their drug addictions could not get access to a rehabilitation centre and asked that one be built.
“A lot of children want help but their parents can’t afford rehab.”
Ms De Lille reminded him that there are rehabs in Mitchell’s Plain but added that she would send a representative from the Department of Social Development to his house to discuss it with him.
Ms Africa, at whose home the meeting was held, tutors children and is part of the Marigold street committee – nicknamed the Double Cabs – which patrolled the street in the early hours of the morning. She told the mayor she needed resources such as stationery and reading books for the tutoring.
Ms De Lille said that she would send her stationery from her office and requested that Ms Timm connect the street committees and neighbourhood watches in her ward with the Department of Social Development for training.
Ms Timm responded that it was already in the pipeline.
William Shand asked when the bluegum trees in the area would be pruned or removed as its leaves caused blockages in the drain which in turn caused flooding. Mr Shand said he had logged the calls on the City’s complaints line. Ms De Lille asked for the call’s reference numbers and said she would investigate.
Mr Shand also wanted to know when the Lentegeur swimming pool would be converted into an indoor heated pool.
Ms Timm said the infrastructure was already in place but the upgrade had not yet begun.
Mr Shand then echoed the request for a multipurpose centre and asked if the empty field behind the swimming pool could be used.
Ms De Lille asked for the property’s erf number and said she would investigate.
Moulana Siraaj Miller was concerned about children roaming the streets unsupervised.
“How do we as the community keep parents responsible for their own children? Parents are not being kept accountable for their children. What can we do as a community?” he asked.
Ms De Lille replied: “This thing of your children are my children is gone. If you as the community go to the mother and say; ‘What you are doing is wrong’ then you will get sworn at.”
She concluded by saying that she would send a social worker to meet with him.