Unite and take action

Rozario Brown, Town Centre businessman

Suburbs are better because the residents make them better for themselves. It’s not rocket science.

Many Cape Flats residents often complain about the resources pushed into Claremont, Rondebosch, the Atlantic Seaboard and other leafy suburbs.

The reality is that property owners living in these wealthy and suburbs take pride in their homes. They understand the value of their properties and accept their homes are probably their greatest asset.

More importantly, these property owners form functioning resident associations, body corporates and other entities to look after their interest.

You will find some of the best armed-response companies and strong neighbourhood watches in these communities, greatly improving security and pushing up property values.

Atlantic Seaboard residents would never tolerate drug dealers doing their trade in full view of them and especially not in the presence of their children.

They would certainly not allow gangs to move into their areas and operate free for decades without taking radical action to remove those gangs as quickly as they arrive.

Lastly, they make it their duty to have regular interactions with their local elected officials and ward councillors.

They hold their councillors accountable and complain about the most minuscule transgressions, whether it’s a street light not working for a few days, grass that has not been trimmed for weeks or dirty parks.

They ensure the councillors respond or they harass the mayor, his mayoral committee members and the City of Cape Town’s executive management team. That is the secret to the success of the so-called leafy suburbs.

It is highly possible for Cape Flats residents to turn around their own communities and create their own leafy suburbs.

Treat your property as the greatest asset you will ever own. By doing some very basic things and coming together as a community you can almost immediately push up the value of your property.

Most properties in Mitchell’s Plain should really be valued above the R1 million mark. Follow the examples of those living in Rondebosch, Clifton, Bishopscourt, Constantia and elsewhere in the suburbs.

Do not tolerate the gangs. Shut down the drug dens as soon as they pop up and report all forms of criminality taking place within your community to the local police or law enforcement agencies.

That drug house in your street or in your community is pushing down property values. You are all suffering and being disadvantaged. Only the drug dealers benefit from their illegal activities.

Your property value could immediately increase by thousands of rand simply by getting rid of known drug houses and gang hotspots in your area.

Hold your elected officials accountable. Keep a record of all the complaints by writing down the names of those you are complaining to, record the times and dates of phone calls or emails to councillors. Escalate your complaints to the mayor, speaker of council or the premier of the province, if the councillors fail to respond.

You are entitled to have access to the mayor, the premier, members of the executive council (MECs) and cabinet ministers. You are paying their salaries, and they are working on your behalf. They are not above those who voted them into office.

Complain about a lazy or ineffective public representative by writing to your local community newspapers, radio stations and on social media.

Take photos of the dirty parks and upload them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Tag those responsible.

I urge the community to take ownership of their area. Do not allow the recent killings of those innocent children in Mitchell’s Plain and elsewhere on the Cape Flats, to be in vain. Use their murders as a turning point and take full control of your community.

Clean up your community. Demand that those in leadership positions actually do their work and hold them accountable. Do not delay in getting rid of those who continuously fail the community and do all in your power to unite.

Do not allow external forces, politicians and so-called community activists to divide your communities. Speaking out against social ills and issues affecting the poor also counts as community work. Speak out and speak up.

Raise your hands, be counted and remember, this political change can be good, especially where it is needed