Ebrahim Sawant, from Ward 19, was named a Sub-council 21 councillor of the year last week.
Sub-council 21 comprises seven wards that include the Blackheath Industrial area, Eerste River, the Kuils River industrial area, Macassar as well as Blue Downs.
Mr Sawant grew up in Stellenbosch with his parents, a brother and five sisters. Both of his parents came from India when they were young and ran a grocery business store in their home.
They stayed in a building that was known as the “Sawant-gebou” which was built in the early 1800s and was declared a heritage site.
“This was the only national monument in Stellenbosch that was ever demolished. In 1973, a three-person council decided the building should go. This move elicited a strong outcry from the Stellenbosch communities but fell on deaf ears. This was an illegal decision by the council as they were instructed by the then Cape Administrator not to touch the heritage site,” he said.
Mr Sawant said that experience introduced him to the harsh realities of apartheid and South African politics.
“I was forced, like many other South Africans, to dedicate my life to combat injustices in communities and found the UDF and the ANC to be the ideal political home for me. Soon after my wife and I with our children moved to Kuils River, I was elected the chairperson of the ANC Kuils River branch in 1989.”
Ward 19 has 13 communities, including Highbury, Wesbank and Kalkfontein in Kuils River.
“I revel in my task of uplifting these communities which all suffer the consequences, even today, of poor apartheid planning,” he said.
He lists community clean-up campaigns, community dialogues with Eskom about vandalism and the effects of load shedding, and sorting out sewage spills as some of his achievements since the beginning of the year.
Sub-council 21 chairman Johannes van der Merwe said: “He works hard in his ward and plays a major role in the process to solve the sewer problems in the sub-council.”