Let’s build Mitchell’s Plain

Gerald Brown, founder and co-ordinator of Mitchell’s Plain Residents’ Construction Trade Skills Centre

The story “Violence halts the construction of houses” (Plainsman, July 14) refers.

The solution to the violence is better engagement with sub-councils (Wolfgat and 23) the community and project steering committee (PSC).

Local contractors with Mitchell’s Plain and the developers, awarded the tenders from the national government and City of Cape Town projects, from the offset, must be transparent and available for scrutiny.

With the lack of discussion, the trio cannot work together to curtail gang violence and nip in the bud all forms of criminal activity, including corruption, fraud, theft and “extortion rackets” – the latter of which mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi did not rule out in last week’s Plainsman.

The minute the trio – that is the government, developers and the community – is not working together, gangsters and criminals will find loopholes to take control of projects, with employees being shot at and construction plans grinding to a halt because of safety concerns.

The sub-councils, project steering committee and the developers are often ignorant about the community’s needs and resources, (and then) the criminal element creeps in.

We appeal that things should begin correctly, so the work can be done speedily and completely without any crime hindrances.

We provide a free 45-day on site basic free skills training programme and have asked Mayor Dan Plato for a plot of land 900 square metres for a mini training centre to provide physical trade skills training to the unemployed.

Thus far we have not yielded any support from Mr Plato and or the local sub-councils.

This is not an attack on political parties but we do need support from local government officials within Mitchell’s Plain.

This centre is for people that cannot read or write, primary and secondary school dropouts, who are not accepted at any skill college.

We therefore want the piece of land to teach a trade tool-in-hand to put together bricks and mortar to build Mitchell’s Plain.

Greg Wagner, spokesperson for the mayor Dan Plato, responds:

There has been extensive engagement with the public about this project.

City projects also ensure that there is a localised labour component as well as a local Project Steering Committee (PSC) that represents beneficiaries and the community.

The City is always open to engagement and there is no acceptable justification for this violence.

The community is fully behind this project.

Numerous public meetings were held at various stages of the project with overwhelming support.

The PSC was established in 2012 and has been actively involved in the decision making since the project’s inception.

With regards to the request for assistance from the resident, the Mayor’s office is in the process of engaging the resident to determine where assistance is possible.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 and chairman of Wolfgat Sub-council, responds:

I acknowledge that Mr Brown is one of the registered businesses on the sub-council database.

I can also confirm that I am aware of Mr Brown’s proposal for a piece of land and can confrim that we’ve had meeting in this regard.

I explained to him in order for any member of the public or organisation to obtain the use or purchase of the public land there is an administrative process to follow as no councillor can give permission to applicants to use public land.

I met with Mr Brown in May and June this year.

My office then forwarded the application form to Mr Brown on Monday June 14 for him to formally apply for the land and it was my office which provided him with the ERF number as he did not have the details at the time of our meeting.

I do support the initiative, however, I am unable to give permission for any person to use public land and the only way for them to access is to apply as per my request in our meeting.

Sub-council will work with any structure for the benefit of the community. However, the organisation must understand there is a processes to follow to use or purchase public land.