Community Safety MEC, Alan Winde, visited community members and the farmers from the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA). Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA), known as the ‘breadbasket’ of the province because of the many farms producing vegetables, is under threat because of criminals.

Many farmers have packed it in. They said criminals had made it too risky to farm.

On Monday, Community Safety MEC Alan Winde, Social Development MEC Albert Fritz and ward councillor Elton Jansen visited Schaapkraal to meet farmers and farmworkers.

A resident, Edwina Adonis, said crime in the area had escalated to a point where it had instilled fear among residents.

“Young children use drugs because they see it from elders and end up in gangsterism. This area is full of gangsters who come from Hanover Park. All we ask is assistance from the City of Cape Town.”

Adonis pleaded with Winde to assist them in fighting gang violence.

A farmer, Gunther Engelke, said their lives were at risk.

“People do not want to farm anymore because of the scourge of crime and violence that we are faced with on our farms.”

Spokesperson for the PHA Nazeer Sonday said the meeting came after 10 years of lobbying, demanding, picketing, networking and working hard to put the plight of farmers in the area on the agenda.

“The PHA farmlands are the unpolished jewel of the city and it is important to make it visible to ordinary citizens who do not always know where their food comes from. A large part of the PHA community is struggling with high unemployment and this directly relates to social ills, such as crime, substance abuse and domestic abuse. We desperately need social development, cultural and skills development programmes in our area.”

Sonday said crime was a complex challenge and although certain short-term actions were identified, the longer-term solution lay in addressing the root causes - poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“It is for this reason the PHA campaign reiterates its position that the PHA is a valuable resource that must be protected. As one participant at the meeting said: ‘It is time for new thinking’. We believe small-scale farming will not only ensure food and water security for the broader Cape Town, but will create the number of types of jobs that are so badly needed.”

Sonday said crime affected all who live in the PHA and surrounding areas, not just the farmers.

Community Safety MEC, Alan Winde, visited community members and the farmers from the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) to discuss possible solutions for the dramatic increase crime in the area. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency/ANA

He said it was unfortunate that Winde felt some white farmers’ rights were being violated because they wanted to pursue cashing in on the property boom created by speculators, developers and mining companies.

Sonday said protecting the PHA for agriculture did not take away anyone’s rights because the land had been zoned agriculture for nearly 150 years.

Winde made a commitment to investigate the use of drones and establish a temporary law-enforcement station and community forums to deal with the underlying causes of crime.

Residents welcomed the commitment.

Highlands Estate resident Shameema Kippie said they hoped these plans would result in better policing of illegal dumping, illegal land use and land uses that contributed to the degradation of the area and resulted in crime.

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Cape Argus