Looking back on the year that was

The Plainsman March 29 edition.

As we looked back on some of the stories that made the Plainsman headlines in 2017, it was at least some consolation to know that there had been progress made relatively quickly in serious cases.

It has been a year of tears and anger as the violence against women and children continued to haunt the community. There was gang violence, gruesome murders and even arms going missing from Mitchell’s Plain police station.

Among all this, including a severe drought in the Western Cape, many Mitchell’s Plain residents continued to stand out with talents, as artists, entrepreneurs and social revolutionaries.

Our pages have told their tales of inspiration, courage and the determination to better the lives of others.

Here are just a few of the stories which made headlines:

Randy Tango was put behind bars for the murder of 11-year-old Stacha Arendse from Tafelsig. Songs of victory rang out as Judge Robert Henney sentenced Tango to three life terms in the Cape High Court on Monday December 11 (“Community welcomes three life sentences for Tango”, December 13). DNA evidence linked him to the rape and murder of Stacha in Matroosberg Street, Tafelsig on Monday March 27.

By the time the Plainsman hit the streets on Wednesday March 29, residents were already waking up to the news that Stacha’s body had been found the day before and no arrests had been made (“Missing girl found dead”, March 29).

Tango’s name will be added to the sexual offenders register.

Mitchell’s Plain residents and pupils have taken to the streets at different events to speak out against violence and abuse.

Cedar High School pupils handed a memorandum to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) detailing the problems of violence, bullying and drugs they encounter every day (“’Violence should not be a norm’”, October 25).

Churches, from across Cape Town, gathered in Tafelsig on Sunday November 12, to march and pray against crime (“Prayer walk against crime”, November 15).

Fourteen Mitchell’s Plain police officers, including station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam, were back at work on Thursday November 23, after being suspended on Monday September 18 (“Suspended cops back on the beat”, November 29).

Their suspension followed an internal audit, which reported that 15 state-issued firearms went missing from the local police station in August.

On Thursday September 21 newspapers reported that Brigadier Goolam, the head of Visible Policing, all the relief commanders and all of the Community Service Centre commanders were suspended.

Colonel Jan Alexander, who had been serving as acting Mitchell’s Plain police station commander, returned to Steenberg police station.

Thanks to the worst drought the province has seen in decades, emergency desalination plants are being constructed close to shorelines at Monwabisi, Strandfontein, the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town Harbour (“Fresh water from the sea?” December 13). The potable water will be injected straight into the reticulation system.

The placement of these plants should not to hamper beach goers and their activities along the coast.

Also in this year, the City revealed plans for the Beacon Valley housing development, the biggest housing project over the past 10 years, which will create 1 818 housing opportunities by July 2019 (“Housing bonanza gives Beacon Valley hope”, April 26).

But dozens of Mitchell’s Plain families were evicted from council-owned houses because the tenants were unlawful occupants (“Left out in the cold” November 1).

During a public meeting at Strandfontein community hall on Thursday December 7, Gregg Oelofse, City of Cape Town manager for environmental corporate governance in the environmental management department, tabled three development proposals, at a cost of R15 million, for residents, the local fishing community and beach goers to consider in the upgrade of Fisherman’s Lane. The Plainsman reported on November 15 reported that 16 injuries incurred at the dilapidate slipway at the Blue Flag beach, within a month (“Slipping away…”).

On a positive note, as media partner, the Plainsman was privy to the planning and hosting of the 10th Mitchell’s Plain Schools Marching and Drilling Competition, at Stephen Reagon sports field on Saturday October 14 (“Drum roll please” October 11).

Three-time winner of the primary school category, Harvester Primary School, from Westridge, dominated, while Elsies River High School were the winners of the the high category. The school hails from the hometown of Major-General Jeremy Vearey who initiated the competition a decade ago.

Major General Vearey, who is now police head of detectives in the Western Cape, was the Mitchell’s Plain SAPS cluster commander at the time when he was involved in community development and saw the need for youth programmes because of gangsterism (“Drilling competition reaches 10-year milestone”, Plainsman, August 16).

The drilling programme is aimed at diverting youngsters from crime, instilling discipline, teaching them the importance of teamwork, manners and respect, leadership and self-confidence.

The Plainsman also once again partnered with the Cycle of Life for the ninth annual DStv Mitchell’s Plain Festival held at Westridge Gardens.

This year’s event was marred by a stampede on Saturday December 2, caused by a group who pushed and forced their way into the premises.

Darren Jacobs, 13, from Rocklands, suffered asphyxia (suffocation) in the incident and had to be resuscitated.

Last week the Plainsman reported that he was recovering well.

While the organisers said no amount of planning and precautionary measures would deliver an incident-free event unless you have everyone’s full co-operation, they pledged to plan better for next year’s festival.