A night photograph of Taiwan Informal settlement in Site C khayelitsha.City has R62.5m to spend on public lighting but none of that will be spent on Khayelitsha where a lack of lighting's been highlighted as a safety risk. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has admitted that there is poor lighting in many parts of Khayelitsha, which is the reason cited by residents and the Minister of Police as a contributor to the high crime rate in the area.

In a report by the energy and climate change directorate, it was found that in certain areas the positioning of lights was a problem due to structures casting shadows onto the roads.

“The solution to Khayelitsha lighting cannot merely be remedied by installing conventional street lights all over the area.

"This is due to the road reserve being encroached by the residents with buildings, boundary fences and walls. This impedes the installation of street lights,” the report stated.

The directorate said it had identified areas where the use of additional high-mast lights could alleviate some of the lighting problems.

“The project would be funded through the capital programme or ward funding allocations. A clear and concise identification of areas that have poor lighting would lead to a more programmatic approach in dealing with a rollout of additional public lighting in Khayelitsha,” the report stated.

The City has R62.5million to spend on public lighting in the 2019/20 financial year, but has allocated only R1.8m for planned refurbishment in Khayelitsha, where a lack of lighting had been highlighted as a risk to safety.

The 2014 commission of inquiry into policing in the township found a lack of adequate street lights contributed to crime in the area.

While there are plans to install more 40m high-mast lights in Khayelitsha, these will only come into effect in the next five years.

The Social Justice Coalition (SJC), which urged former premier Helen Zille in 2012 to launch the 2014 inquiry, welcomed the findings.

SJC co-head of programmes Dalli Weyers said: “We have long maintained what the report now confirms. Lighting in many areas of Khayelitsha is fairly poor and not in compliance with national standards.

“We don’t buy the excuses put forward by the City for why high-mast lights are most feasible. The resultant lack of lighting places pedestrians, in a predominantly pedestrianised community, at immense risk of crime and road fatalities.”

He said he found it strange that the City would state that “conventional street lights cannot be implemented” in informal settlements.

“The City itself has disproved it."

Currently conventional lighting is provided on residential electrification poles in other informal settlements such as Kanana, Barcelona, Europe, Vukuzenzele, Thabo Mbeki East and Thabo Mbeki West,” he said.

Mayco member for energy and climate change Phindile Maxiti has dismissed the SJC’s claims and asked for patience.

“I am not sure what this (SJC) group wants because we have Identified several areas in the Khayelitsha area where street lighting cannot be installed. We cannot install street lights there because the area has become encroached. We have identified areas where street lights can be built and where high mast lighting can be used. We as the City have a plan and we will install adequate lighting in that area,” he said.

Maxiti said that over the last four financial years, 134 street lights and 10 high mast lights had been installed in various areas.

“There are many stakeholders involved in this and what I cannot understand is that they are not patient with us as the City as I have met the SJC on various occasions,” Maxiti said.

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Cape Argus