Don’t ignore us, plead residents of small Cape Town neighbourhood

Ward councillor is missing in action

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Photo of Phoenix
A park in Phoenix near Milnerton. Photo: Trevor Bohatch

Residents in Phoenix, Milnerton believe that they are neglected by the City of Cape Town. They say that they are plagued by lack of services to their area.

Ursula Marshall, chairperson of the Phoenix Ratepayers’ Association, said that it feels like Phoenix’s home-owners have been left behind; despite paying rates for 23 years.

Absent councillor

Tando Jafta, the councillor for Ward 4, which encompasses areas such as Phoenix, Joe Slovo Park and part of Milnerton, has not attended a subcouncil or council meeting since November when the DA suspended him after they received a complaint. Despite being suspended from the party, he was meant to continue his duties as councillor. Both subcouncil and council meetings are essential spaces for residents’ concerns to be tabled and resolved.

Jafta has now been fired from his position but didn’t even attend his own disciplinary hearing or offer any defence for his non-attendance.

During the May subcouncil meeting, community members from Phoenix and councillors expressed concern about a lack of community facilities, schooling and security in the area with one item on the agenda being “long outstanding matters in Phoenix”.

A representative from the Phoenix Sports Association asked the subcouncil to consider the development of a new multi-purpose sports facility in Phoenix as the current hall is not big enough to accommodate all the children and sports clubs from Phoenix and Joe Slovo.

According to the 2011 census, Phoenix has a population of 4,219, is 56% black African and 36% coloured. 32% of the community is English and 24% is Xhosa. Neighbouring Joe Slovo Park has a population of 12,629 and is 95% black African. 66% of the population is Xhosa.

In a letter from the Phoenix Ratepayers’ Association to the City last year, the association expressed exasperation that its proposal to upgrade open land into a community recreational area was snubbed. The letter also called for increased law enforcement in the area and said that residents of Phoenix were unable to access the community hall to run programmes as only Joe Slovo Park residents are notified of the programmes. It also complained that residents cannot access the park on Democracy Drive nor the sports field in School Street, as it is “oversubscribed” with soccer players from Joe Slovo Park.

This has been disputed by Mayoral Committee Member for Area North, Councillor Suzette Little, who told GroundUp that the programmes on offer are available to all residents of Joe Slovo as well as Phoenix. The same goes for the parks, community centre and sports field. “The community of Phoenix is not excluded from using these facilities and can book them whenever they would like, provided the facility is not already booked out,” said Little.

She also said that R100,000 has been set aside for the upgrade of the Perseus Road Park in Phoenix in the 2017/18 financial year.

Little said that the City strives to provide services equitably. Despite this, she said that some areas experience very high levels of theft and vandalism. She called on residents “to take ownership of their infrastructure by reporting vandals and thieves”.

At the subcouncil meeting Councillor Ursula Barends agreed that there is currently a shortage of facilities for the residents of ward 4. Barends also told GroundUp that the service delivery concerns raised by residents are being addressed and that some of the progress made includes daily clean-up operations, the fixing of public lighting, additional speed bumps and more SAPS visibility in the area.

“Daily sewer pipe bursts”

Sewerage problems are common in the Milnerton area, with Marshall saying that Phoenix and Joe Slovo Park are particularly affected as the sewerage system is unable to cater for the approximately 16,000 people that live in an area under 0.6km2 according to Adrian Frith’s calculations using 2011 census data. She describes “daily sewer pipe bursts” as a result of the overcrowding.

Councillor Little denied that there was a collapse but said that the system is “extremely abused by the dumping of inappropriate objects into the system, causing a high number of blockages and pump station malfunction”. Little said that the system is currently being upgraded.

Marshall believes that the political parties focus on neighbouring Joe Slovo because there are three times as many people living there and therefore more opportunities for votes.

Once the DA won the Western Cape “that was the end of service delivery in Phoenix”, says Marshall.

TOPICS:  Government

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