Concerned about social issues and service delivery and with the express intention of galvanising the community into action to address these and other issues, the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents Association (MURA) officially launched at the Lentegeur police station on Saturday May 6.
The event was well supported with members of the religious fraternity, organisations such as Mustadifin Foundation, the Mitchell’s Plain Network Opposing Abuse, the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum, the Mitchell’s Plain Older Persons Forum and councillors Sheval Arendse and Elton Jansen, the chairpersons of sub-councils 12 and 23 respectively, attending the launch.
Mura is an independent and apolitical civic organisation, consisting of 10 executive members, namely Norman Jantjes, Michael Jacobs, Shahida Dudley, Moegsien Jacobs, Arthur Voegt, Alex Lawrence, Linda Jones, Clive Bailey and Wyatt Fabe. Patrons are Sheik Ebrahim Gabriels, the Imam of Masjiedur Rawbie in Portland and former president of both the Muslim Judicial Council and United Ulama Council of South Africa, Pastor Sheila Scoble, nursing director at Arisen Women Foundation, a Mitchell’s Plain-based NGO committed to the development and promotion of women’s rights in the community, and attorney Carol de Cerff who established her law firm in Mitchell’s Plain in 1996.
Mura chairperson Norman Jantjes, who is the former Mitchell’s Plain director of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) and independent Ward 76 councillor (1996 to 2001), said membership was open to organisations and individuals.
He said Mura would not be bound to any specific area and would serve the entire Mitchell’s Plain between the R300, Swartklip Road, the coastline and Strandfontein Road.
The organisation started in October last year but was officially launched on Saturday.
Mr Jantjes said they started the organisation because they felt that the community was voiceless and being marginalised. “We felt that there is a lack of a united, independent and apolitical community structure. Therefore we felt the need to articulate and address community needs and aspirations.
“As we can see there is currently a lack of accountability by government and the private sector and with that a lack of oversight-monitoring by the community,” he said.
Mr Jantjes added that their vision was to create a proud and caring Mitchell’s Plain community which enjoys a decent quality of life.
“Our aim is to build social cohesion together with all our partners while addressing the needs of the Mitchell’s Plain community,” he said.
Michael Jacobs, the deputy chairperson of Mura, and the former chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum and the Mitchell’s Plain CPF cluster, said it was time residents became active and found their voices. “Pre-1994 people were active, they stood up against the apartheid government. They toyi-toyied in the streets, and now they are relaxed.
“There are burning issues that need to be addressed, so we need to find our voice and be proactive,” he said.
Mr Jacobs said they had plans for Mitchell’s Plain and hoped to establish strong sectors such as housing, safety and security, sports and arts and culture.
“It is important to note that we want to form partnerships with community structures and be active in the various ward committees. Our Mitchell’s Plain community is vibrant and active, and we want them to get involved. Today we have people from organisations, structures and from the City, this shows that they have an interest,” he said.
Speaking about the challenges Mitchell’s Plain residents faced, Mr Jantjes said gangsterism and violence against women and children, drugs, water and electricity disconnections, deductions from electricity purchases and housing issues were but some of the issues.
“We have residents, including pensioners who are having water and electricity problems; its either disconnected or they are billed irregularly. Then we have a huge issue with housing, it’s slow and the waiting list is extremely long.
“However, when people receive their houses. It is (sometimes) poor quality and they fall apart. We have community workers at the event (launch) who have worked with people who are having these issues,” he said.
Mr Arendse, Sub-council 12 chairperson, said he looked forward to working with the association and supported its the vision. “You have a great leader, someone who is passionate about community development. I look forward to working with the team of residents and let’s see how we can tap into resources. This is what Mitchell’s Plain needs, so let’s put our hands together and make the change,” he said.
Former Tafelsig resident, Leon Swartz, a director in the national Department of Social Development, said it was important for residents to mobilise and set the agenda.
“As we can see, the political landscape is changing, and sadly just a few people are benefiting, so residents must mobilise. Residents should set the agenda and drive it, not the DA, the ANC or the EFF. Mitchell’s Plain now has an organisation with members who are dedicated and reliable, so I am excited and wish them everything of the best,” he said.
Mr Swartz said he was concerned about young people addicted to drugs and having babies at a young age. “Community organisations, this is where you come in, this is where you play your role. This is the reality in Mitchell’s Plain, empower our youngsters and give them opportunities, so that they can grow up to be active citizens,” he said.
William Simmers, from the Mitchell’s Plain Advice Office, said it was important for businesses to support organisations who did good work in the community. He said there was a lack of support from businesses, and encouraged them to assist NGOs.
“As organisations, we try our best to assist residents with limited resources, so we’re asking for businesses to assist and help develop our community,” he said.
For more information about Mura, call Mr Jantjes on 083 628 4421 or find Mura on Facebook.