Blikkiesdorp community protests

By Lauren Isaacs Time of article published Jan 25, 2012

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Lauren Isaacs

THE Blikkiesdorp ward councillor has never set foot in the area.

Khayalethu Makeleni, who is also responsible for Delft and the surrounding area (Ward 106), admitted yesterday that he had not visited Blikkiesdorp since he was elected in May.

Yesterday, more than 100 residents marched to Makeleni’s offices at Delft South Library. Protesters carried posters that read: “I refuse to die in a blik (tin), we want houses” and “Down with the Blikke”.

They also complained that Makeleni had never been to see them. When asked if this was true, he conceded, saying: “Yes, I haven’t been there.” He went on to say: “They are not wrong. I do understand where they are coming from. I will meet with them on Thursday to discuss the way forward.

“As a councillor, I am not involved in housing and don’t deal with these issues directly. I usually have meetings with the Blikkiesdorp committee and convey their concerns to the whole ward. We inform the relevant departments.

“In this instance, residents are complaining about rubbish not being cleared. I will inform the cleansing department and pressurise them to deal (with the matter).”

He added that it was unfair that residents were made to stay in a temporary relocation area for several years without eventually receiving houses.

Residents handed over a memorandum to Makeleni, posing 11 questions which they felt they had the “right to ask”.

Among these were: “What is the possibility of getting houses in the near future under you Mr Councillor?” and “Why have you never been in Blikkiesdorp since being elected?” Blikkiesdorp community leader Beverley Jacobs pleaded with Makeleni to assist residents. “About 100 children don’t attend school. Parents don’t have money for registration fees so principals sent them back. This leads to crime,” she said.

Jacobs also said bushes needed to be cut because four bodies were found dumped there over the festive season.

Makeleni said he was unaware of the deaths.

According to Blikkiesdorp4Hope chairman Jerome Daniels, residents noticed at the weekend that trenches were being dug beyond the Blikkiesdorp boundaries. The organisation was started by members of the community to fight for adequate housing.

“If more trenches are being dug and pipes lie in the ground, it tells us that more structures are going to be erected. It was stated in court that there should not be more than 1 500 structures. There are already close to 2 000. This is supposed to be temporary, but some are here for five or six years,” said Daniels. The frustrated residents then filled the trenches with dirt and ripped pipes out.

Daniels also said there were about 20 000 people in Blikkiesdorp and nearly 12 000 were children. “Overcrowding is causing disease outbreak in Blikkiesdorp, especially among children. One child is already in hospital with TB. The rule is four families to one toilet, but we have more than 20 families using one toilet. People dump their rubbish everywhere and sewerage drains are blocked. All this while the council only cleans once a week,” he said.

As a result of the blocked drains, streams of waste water ran from outside toilets leaving a foul stench between homes.

The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Ernest Sonnenberg, said they didn’t always have time to convey messages to the community should they require emergency relief. He said if residents were concerned with the performance of their ward councillor, they should contact the Speaker’s office.

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