Trinity eyes land in the ’Plain

This is Trinity Childrens Centres vision for a vacant plot of council owned land in Eastridge.

City of Cape Town officials are seeking approval from Wolfgat Sub-council to sell a vacant plot of land, neighbouring what used to be the Eastridge home of the Mitchell’s Plain office of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO).

During last month’s sub-council meeting at the Lentegeur administrative office, on Thursday August 16, Ward 79 councillor Solomon Philander referred the matter to officials, asking them to return with information as to how best the land can serve the community and bring services, like those provided by Nicro, back to the area.

Last year Nicro moved out of the area because of a lack of funding (“The difficult life of parolees”, Plainsman, April 25), after it sold its building to Trinity Children’s Centre, a Christian school catering for pupils from pre-school to Grade 4.

Trinity church also uses the premises.

He said there was a prefabricated building on the property, on site as office space, and questioned who had authorised its removal.

“We lost the Nicro facility for youth intervention in Mitchell’s Plain, We have no facility for young people in Mitchell’s Plain, where they can go to for the very same services,” he said.

He asked whether the non-government sector and community-based projects could be used to augment the service that was lost to the youth.

“You saw there has been an increase in gangsterism or killings in our areas. What interventions are there that will replace, what was given to the NGO sector to provide as an essential service in Mitchell’s Plain?” Mr Philander asked.

When the Plainsman visited the site, at 2 Palestrina Street, in Eastridge, on Thursday August 30, the centre’s founder and principal Renier Coetzee explained that they had applied more than 18 months ago to buy the land to extend the independent school, and take it up Grade 7 by 2021.

They have, however, not yet received any feedback from the municipality.

Previously the school operated from 9 Clairwood Crescent, in Beacon Valley, where it started with a pre-school class of 16 pupils. They now have 90 pupils.

Since its establishment in 2012, the school has been adding a grade every year, so that they can have a Grade 7 class in three year’s time.

Parents or caregivers of the pupils pay school fees, but Mr Coetzee said many of the pupils were either bursary recipients or their parents volunteered their time and services to the school.

“As a non-profit we raise all our own funding for building and operational costs, so expanding our school will provide more children with an excellent education at no cost to local or provincial government,” he said.

Two-thirds of the centre’s staff are from Mitchell’s Plain and surrounding areas.

He said it was their mission to reach children who were at risk, including low-income or unemployed families.

“The fees we charge only covers 10% of the our operating budget. We raise the other 90% and all capital costs from donations by individuals and businesses,” he said.

According to the school’s application to buy the land, it started in a small church building, then they bought the house next door, for offices and in 2014 they purchased an additional house, which they renovated into three classrooms.

“This allowed us to grow to five classes altogether. Since 2014 we have tried to buy additional properties around our little campus, but with no success,” said Mr Coetzee.

In addition to extending the school, they want to develop a playground and sports field and have already set up a mini-soccer pitch, which they plan to make available to the community.

“The building we propose to build if we purchase Erf 35280 would be two storeys, that is the ground floor and first floor, and would have a footprint of no more than 150 square metres,” he said.

He said the building would comprise five classrooms and ablution facilities.

Mr Coetzee said they had already started improving security around the property due to the high levels of opportunistic crime in the area.

He said several neighbours had signed letters approving of their application.

“We would like to plant trees and gardens and develop a playground and sports field, all of which will improve the aesthetics and open up opportunities for community events,” he said.

They have a grounds keeper, who maintains the buildings and gardens.

The building has substantial roof space from which they hope to collect rainwater for irrigation.

According to sub-council notes, the City’s property management department had to determine a market valuation for the erf, for disposal to the centre in November last year.

“The valuation is for internal requirements only and must not be made available to the public without prior written consent from the head of Market Valuations,” read document.

According to an advertisement published in the Cape Argus in April, the municipality was considering selling the property.

The public and interested parties or groupings had until Monday May 28 to submit comments, input or recommendations to the municipality. The property is located in a residential suburb and is zoned general business.

The department is due to report back during this month’s sub-council meeting on Thursday September 20.