Sub-council 2 chairwoman, Brenda Hansen, came under fire from residents as she embarked on her first clean-up drive in the temporary relocation area (TRA) in Wallacedene last Friday May 31.
Residents accused the councillor of neglecting them and the community.
With stacks of pamphlets to be distributed to residents, accompanied by the City of Cape Town’s disaster management team, Ms Hansen strolled through the gravel streets in the TRA to raise awareness about being exposed to waste, raw sewage and stagnant water from clogged drains.
Her aim was to encourage residents to keep their community clean. However, she was quickly stopped in her tracks when community activist, Thobani Mathole confronted her.
He said: “Every time you come here to make empty promises, to remove dumping and fixing our water. But this place is like this because of you.”
He said the community had handed in a list of requests nearly a year ago but they were ignored and nobody came back to them with an update.
Mr Mathole told Ms Hansen in a raised voice: “Before you hand out these papers, you must clean the community and then tell the people to keep it clean.”
Ms Hansen quickly responded by saying: “Two years ago I arranged with officials to have electricity brought to this community, something you never had. This community remains ungrateful and continuously blames the City for no service delivery but will refuse to work with us to create a better TRA,” she said.
Zinhle Magubane said a drain outside her front gate has been blocked for nearly six months but the City staff working in the TRA refuses to unblock it.
“It is all clear now but some days I must hold onto the pipes of my pants without shoes to get through this water that is here and it stinks,” she said.
Mr Mathole called out to Northern News, “Come, come look if you don’t believe us!”
He pointed to a foul-smelling pile of rubble, where old fish guts, human faeces, animal bones and chicken feathers and skins were being eaten by a swarm of flies and a dog.
“Our animals and children are growing up in this filth and they are becoming ill, then we have to pay more money for them to get medical treatment,” he said.
Christine Filander, solid waste manager working at the site, said the team working in the community try their best to keep clean but residents are to blame for dumping.
“If we clean here today, next week this place will look like this again. This community seems to be unaware of the health and safety risks followed by this, they are taking these matters lightly,” he said.
Mr Filander said during the night people from outside come into the TRA, using the narrow streets as dumping sites but only because residents now allow them to do so.
“Look at my shoes, I come from working in a pile of poo. Residents take a ‘number 2’ and they throw out the buckets on a spot and expect us to clean it. It is not right – the community must help each other stay clean,” he said.
Ms Hansen told Northern News that she is trying to change the mindset of the community and taking things “step by step.”
“I have explained to them (residents) that some of the requests they laid down I have to discuss with officials before I make my own decision,” she said.
She said their communal taps have been changed to a communal stand-pipe with the hope of saving water and having less blocked drains. She is looking forward to doing more upgrades in the TRA, in the near future, she said, but needs the community to work together.
She added that the lids of the drains are being removed and unwanted food is being tossed down the pipes.
“They just don’t work with us here,” she said.
She encouraged the community to read through their pamphlets and give their input to work towards creating a better TRA.
“It makes no sense if the City keeps cleaning but residents are not doing their bit.”
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