The first city improvement district (CID) in a “previously disadvantaged area” met with residents last week.
The steering committee of the Northpine CID, which the City of Cape Town says is the largest in Cape Town, held its first report-back meeting with residents on Tuesday May 23.
“This CID will be what we make it. There are a lot of negative perceptions about people from previously disadvantaged areas; that we are involved with gangs and drugs. We don’t need to live up to that expectation,” said interim spokeswoman Natalie Khambi, as she encouraged residents to take ownership of the CID.
“You need to be active in this. You need to participate. You cannot be passive in something that belongs to you,” she said.
The committee needed 60% support from residents before the special rating area (SRA), as a CID is also known, could get City approval – which was given on Friday April 28.
Residents will now pay an additional levy on their monthly rates to maintain extra services of their choice, such as security patrols, cleaning or landscaping.
Residents have identified safety and security as the main priority.
“People want to feel safe in Northpine,” said Ms Khambi.
Initially, while getting the CID off the ground, the steering committee of 19 volunteers planned to focus on sprucing the area up, but the overwhelming feedback from residents pointed to crime as their the biggest worry.
“People can live with rubbish if they know that they are safe,” Ms Khambi said.
The steering committee redrafted its business plan to prioritise the residents’ concerns, so the first phase of the five-year plan concentrates on safety, and the CID invited neighbourhood watches, police, law enforcement and the community police forum to a workshop on Saturday May 27 to develop a security strategy.
Only residents attended the meeting, interim chairperson Lindsay Schereka said.
Ms Khambi said it had taken a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” over the past three years to get the SRA to this point, and steering committee volunteers had gone door-to-door to promote the concept to the suburb’s 2 120 households.
“People don’t talk to each other in Northpine, but this is something to talk about.”
Mr Schereka started the CID in 2014 in response to growing crime and grime in the suburb.
“I want to see Northpine again become the place of old where people don’t have to look back over their shoulder while walking in the street. I want to see development and empowering of the youth taking place,” Mr Schereka told the Northern News last year (“NCID eyes crime-free Northpine,” Northern News, August 10).
A City survey during the application process found Northpine was “well-developed with good infrastructure” but had “signs of urban decay”.
Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for finance, said the Northpine CID application had shown that “active citizenship” was alive in the previously disadvantaged neighbourhood and the “very active and diligent” steering committee had found “overwhelming support” from the community.
The CID now numbers among three in the area. The other two are the Vredekloof CID and the Brackenfell Business Improvement District.
Vredekloof CID started in 2009 and “crime has decreased tremendously,” said its manager, Leon Brynard.
“If I can make an example, we had no break-ins last month,” he said, adding that Northpine’s decision to prioritise security was a good one.
“From the beginning, that was our main focus and we are now at the point of putting in more technology,” he said.
“We just finished the fibre project. Every house in Vredekloof is fibre-ready and we will be putting in more CCTV cameras.”
Captain Erica Crous confirmed that crime had indeed dropped in Vredekloof since the CID had started.
“They play an important role as a partner in community policing,” she said.
* Call 083 584 0741, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://northpinecid.co.za for more information about the Northpine CID.