Township residents complain about festive season noise

Pharie Sefali
Chilling at a pub during the festive season. Photo by Masixole Feni.
Pharie Sefali

Some townships residents are fed up with the noise from parties and street bashes that escalate at this time of the year.

Tinashe Njaji from Harare says that on 16 December his neighbors had a party that started at about 9pm. He says they had a huge sound system and placed two big speakers outside their house.

“They played music so loud while they screamed and danced in the road that I could not hear my own TV or my wife speak,” says Njaji. “From 2am I attempted to call Harare police station complaining about the noise. I called the police every fifteen minutes more than ten times.”

“After reaching them I was promised that a police van would attend my complaint so I gave them my neighbour’s address but they never came. And at one point I was told that they only have one van.”

Njaji continues, “Harare police station is less that a kilometre from where I stay so I was so surprised that the police never came. I even called 10111 and got the same promise but they never came.”

“I got frustrated because the music went on till 6am when I approached the street committee who managed to handle the situation and switched the music off,” says Njaji.

The police view of noise complaints differs depending on who you speak to. SAPS spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut says all complaints to the police will be dealt with no matter how trivial.

However Colonel Michael Reitz who is the station commander at Lingelethu-West police station in Khayelitsha says that it is not a SAPS priority to deal with noise pollution. He says the cops deal with more important issues like murders and robberies. “The metro police and City law enforcement are supposed to deal with these issues because the police have other things to do,” says Reitz.

But Hayley van der Woude the Media Coordinator for the City of Cape Town wrote that the Metro police “would not be the responding agency” for “middle of the night” noise complaints. She wrote that such noise complaints must be reported to the local police station.

Mam’Zondo is a grandmother. She says youth are selfish and do not consider older people in their communities. “I am 79 but my neighbour’s son who is 18 does not think about me. Since school closed, I can’t sleep during the weekend because he always has a party in his house.”

“I also stay with an infant who is three months old and it’s hard for the baby to sleep at night due to noise,” says Ma’mZondo.

On most weekends and sometimes during the week people play loud music. Sheebens stay open till late at night. It is also common for a street to host as many as three loud events in the same weekend.

Anelisa Mthembu from Harare, Khayelitsha stays three houses away from a shebeen. “I have to wake up at 5am for work [on a Monday morning]. I can’t sleep at all due to the loud music at the shebeen. I call the police many times to close it at midnight but they do not come immediately. Instead they come in the early hours of the morning and still some people will make noise as they leave the shebeen.”

“At my home none of us drink alcohol but we have to sit awake and listen to drunk people as they fight outside my house, shouting rude words at each other,” says Mthembu.

Andiswa Mkhosana who is a street committee member in Harare says that she does not understand why parents let their children misbehave during the festive season. Mkhosana says that she believes that when parents or elders allow children to have parties that last the whole night they are being selfish to other people in the community.

On the other hand some people come from the suburbs to a township at night because they believe law enforcement is not as strict as in the suburbs. Anita Sonwabo from Mowbray says that she rather spends her weekends in Gugulethu because Gugulethu parties are less likely to be disturbed by the police. “In Mowbray if you play loud music during the day a neighbour will call the police and the police will respond immediately. So there is no point during the festive to be in a place that is boring like that,” says Sonwabo.

Andile (surname withheld), who is a young man, says that December is for the youth and people who have issues with noise should go to the rural areas to visit their families. “I think old people should go to the Eastern Cape and take the young babies with them. December only happens once a year and we need to have fun so the police and elders should give us a break,” he says.

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