Article ‘sows distrust’

The article “Land battle pits ‘squatters’ vs owners” (Northern News, September 14), refers:

Your article is factually incorrect and sows distrust and disrespect in our diverse community.

When your reporter phoned me, I asked him to email me his questions, which I would gladly answer to the best of my ability and knowledge.

This he has not done, so his article is his interpretation and recollection of what I have said, not a factual representation.

I do have our conversation on a voice clip.

While your story makes reference to a place called “Beukes”, nobody knows where or what “Beukes” is.

Goliath Estate, also know * as Die Vlak, is the area under discussion here, they have been around for approximately 40 years, after the land was donated to them by the Moravian Church.

Your article identified me as a neighbourhood watch member who attended a ”two-day conference with the Department of Community Safety and the Tygerberg Cluster to gauge policing needs and priorities in the area”.

I am one of the founder members of the neighbourhood watch in our policing sector and an active watch member in my area, but I have not attended the policing needs and priorities meeting as a neighbourhood watch representative; I was an invitee for my NPO.

I also do not live in Goliath Estate, but in a development diagonally across. I have never made the claim that “the settlement was little more than a camp for the homeless people and was fuelling crime”.

I said that the landowners were allowing people to build shacks on their land, which they charged them a monthly rental for. Some of the people living there are petty criminals; we pick them up on a regular basis and they are known in the area as housebreakers and thieves.

The residents your reporter refers to are the owners of the structured residential areas surrounding Goliath Estate.

Our councillor stated in a public meeting that the City is in conversation with the legal landowners to relocate them and find a buyer/developer to commercialise the land… of course the land would have to be rezoned to residential for that to happen.

Some surrounding residents want court action to speed things up; the selfsame councillor has implored them not to proceed with legal action, so that begs some questions?

John Arendse, whom your story identifies as a community leader, is a city councillor as well, renting a house on one of the properties at Goliath Estate.

The City seems to be too scared to move into the area to do their census.

They’ve had months, if not years to verify the numbers, but we have to live in fear on a daily basis.

According your story, “Mr Arendse said crime affected everyone and that the estates’ residents needed to stop spinning the story that Beukes residents were homeless”.

When I phoned John to verify what was written by your reporter, his words were: “Mens kan ook nie met die koerante praat nie.”

I speak with John regularly, have transported him to public meetings and he is also a registered patroller with our neighbourhood watch and a Facebook friend.

It is true that a lot of people do not know about the problem posed by Goliath Estate.

They only start hearing about it after they have been hit by crime traced to there and they join the NHW group for their area/complex.

While I cannot comment on the intentions and actions of the City of Cape Town, I do know that there are several residents of Goliath Estate who are involved with crime. John cannot finger the perpetrators, for his own safety.

He is also wheelchair-bound.

It is a fact that property values are under pressure and owners are selling before it is public knowledge that there is an immediate issue.

The two landowners who are allowing the shack-dwellers, have apparently been instructed by they City not to have more shacks on their premises, but they don’t heed the call.

John is echoing my sentiments regarding the acquisition of the land cheaply, so somebody stands to make lots of money when the land is sold, rezoned to residential and “developed”, most likely with high-density units.

The comment by Henna Baron that “Buh-Rein and Goliath estates residents had been in the area for less than five years, and already want to kick us out” is untrue.

My house is 10 years old. It is true that urbanisation has surrounded Goliath Estate.

Personally, I don’t want to kick the proper, registered owners off.

I can see them being self-sufficient as subsistence farmers, with a market surrounding them that can buy their produce!

We do want the shack-dwellers to be removed and relocated to proper housing.

I’d like to reiterate that nobody I have spoken with, including councillor John Arendse, knows where “Beukes”’ is.

Is“Beukes” possibly a locally used term at Goliath Estate, which to us, is a specific clutch of smallholdings?