NPO moves school after ‘political pressure’

Shiloh recently opened a new ECD school in Phase 2, after being prevented from building it in Phase 6.

A non-profit organisation has pulled its resources, including an early childhood development (ECD) school, from Phase 6 in Wallacedene “due to political pressure” from an ANC councillor.

Shiloh Synergy tried to extend its school on an open space near the Wallacedene clinic, but its plans were thwarted when ANC Ward 6 councillor Simphiwe Nonkeyizana and South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) demanded they stop because they did not own the land (“ANC, NPO scrimmage over land,” Northern News, July 13). The City owns the open space behind the clinic and Shiloh has been using it for 21 years.

On Thursday, Shiloh’s director Vuyile Galada said it had moved to Phase 2 because there would be no political pressure and influence from Sanco over that piece of land as they owned it.

Residents had also accused the NPO of trying to remove them forcefully – something Shiloh denied. Mr Galada was particularly scathing of Sanco, saying: “This is not a Sanco for the community; it’s a Sanco for the councillor. We care for the children only. We think Sanco members are jostling for positions. We don’t want to entertain them anymore. We’re going forward.”

The issue had divided residents, but the majority had wanted Shiloh to remain in Phase 6, he said. While Shiloh had not given up on the piece of land it occupied in Phase 6, Mr Galada said it had decided to go to Phase 2 “where people really need us”, and would only return to Phase 6 if it had the necessary backing.

“I’ve been getting calls, and people want to know when we’re coming back. The schools are open and children want to go to school,” Mr Galada said. They were waiting until a solution had been found to the row over the Phase 6 site.

“We’ve already placed some structures in Phase 2,” he said, adding that the organisation was arranging transport for its ECD children so they could continue to attend class in Phase 2.

Mr Galada said Shiloh had told Sub-council 2 councillors of its plans for the land, and the organisation wanted to meet with Phase 6 residents to discuss the issue after the elections. He said Shiloh had been advised by the City to have law enforcement present at the meeting.

Shiloh had accused Sanco of removing its structures at the open space in Phase 6. Sub-council 2 chairman Grant Twigg said he knew the ANC had been trying to kick Shiloh out and that the move – which he felt was curiously timed to coincide with elections – would not help the community. “(Shiloh have) been servicing the community of Wallacedene and surrounds for many years. They need to be supported by all, including (Mr Nonkeyizana).”

Mr Nonkeyizana said he was annoyed by Shiloh’s claims of political pressure, especially since he had given it R30 000 for its programmes in the past financial year.

“We never hated Shiloh. I think everything is clear here,” he said. “They don’t own the land, and they had been invading people’s yards.”

Mr Nonkeyizana said Kraaifontein branch of the ANC had encouraged Shiloh’s move to Phase 2, also in his ward. He said Shiloh owned that land and had abandoned it to use land they didn’t own.

DA proportional representative councillor in Sub-council 7, Siseko Mbandezi, said he had backed Shiloh’s attempt to buy the land in Phase 6 because of the work it does.

“It’s a loss for people of old Wallacedene because of political interference.” Mr Mbandezi will be running as his party’s candidate for Ward 6.

Kraaifontein Sanco secretary De Villiers Qaba said Shiloh should stop misleading residents. Shiloh had tried to forcefully remove residents to build on land it did not own. He denied pressuring Shiloh to leave, saying all he had done was point out that the organisation did not own the land.

“And when they say children will be without school in Phase 6 because of us… that’s another false accusation. We have children. We wouldn’t do anything to harm our children. We were merely protecting the community.”

The City had not responded to Northern News’ questions about the open space at by time this edition went to print.