Westridge residents share their gripes

Westridge resident Stanley Patience says a field behind his house, which should be a firebreak, is a fire hazard.

Westridge residents are at their wits’ end after logging complaints about open spaces being overgrown, street lights not working and potholes with the City of Cape Town.

They live a stone’s throw away from ward councillor Ashley Potts’s office, at Dagbreek community hall, surrounded by open spaces where the grass is close to knee height, where dumping happens, criminals loiter and tyres are burned to extract the copper threads, which get pawned, to feed drug habits.

Mr Potts said he was aware of the service requests and he too had escalated matters but to no avail.

Resident Stanley Patience, whose backyard neighbours the Westridge Dunes, said it should be a firebreak but instead it was a fire hazard.

The dune is strewn with litter, dried yellow grass, burnt patches and has become a dumping site.

Mr Patience said they would like to manage and care for the space but that the City keeps dragging its feet.

“Something must first burn before something is done,” he said.

Mr Patience said that for now politicians were staying away until just before the national and provincial elections next year.

“We keeping logging C3 notifications and we have to wait until they respond. Every alternate street light does not work,” he said.

Pensioner and resident Simeon Pastor, who lives next to a lane, said it was supposed to be closed during the tenure of Eddie Andrews, the former ward councillor and now deputy mayor, but nothing has happened since.

He said residents have resorted to cutting the lawn themselves.

Next to the lane, between La Provence and Koornhoop Court, is a patch of overgrown weeds, which needs trimming.

As for the Westridge Dunes, Mr Pastor said four decades ago it was home to buck, birds and shrubs and that he would like to see it returned to that “greenery and beauty”.

Mr Pastor called for a memorial site at the dunes, where his son and three other boys died when the sand collapsed on them, while they were playing.

“There should be a look out hill and space for children to roam freely,” he said.

“As ratepayers we have to clean and report non-service delivery. They (the municipality) should come look and know when the grass needs to be cut or when the lights are not working,” he said.

He said many of the residents were pensioners and first-time homeowners of Mitchell’s Plain.

Mr Pastor said residents were told that there was an underground fault with the street light cables.

“Here you can see there is no vandalism – the poles are in tact, every second light works and I had to complain for two years before we had more light in this area,” he said.

He said the lanes, used by commuters and workers to get to work, were also thoroughfares for criminals to flee.

Another resident, Donovan Mclaughlin, who has kept a log of most service requests for almost three years, said the City’s green spaces were actually “weed spaces” because he never saw the municipality water or maintain it.

“We log service requests, get reference numbers as the City requires of us. If it is not done accordingly then we and the councillor have to escalate the matters but it just piles up and never gets done,” he said.

Mr Mclaughlin said various plans had been submitted to be a part of the City’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) but they had gotten no feedback.

“There is no clarity on future plans for the dunes, which forms part of part of biodiversity which needs maintenance,” he said.

The City said they were looking into the matter, but because it cut across multiple directorates and departments, a response for this edition of the Plainsman was not possible.