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Cape Town’s Lwandle community divided over water tank issue

Lwandle community is divided over the proposed demolition of a water tank. VELANI LUDIDI

Lwandle community is divided over the proposed demolition of a water tank. VELANI LUDIDI

Published May 29, 2021

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Cape Town - The community of Lwandle in Strand is divided over the proposed demolition of a water tank by the City of Cape Town.

The tank, which many say is a landmark, was built during the apartheid days when the area was still a farm. It was an irrigation system and later a hiding place for migrant labourers who were running from apartheid police.

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The municipality says the old water tank is a hazard to the community.

Community activist Xolani Diniso is against the demolition.

“It came to our attention that City of Cape Town Municipality is planning to demolish one of our historical water towers without first engaging with community structures and the public in general.

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“We would like to remind the municipality that ’Etankini’ is one of the prominent points at Lwandle, which has been part of our history. This historical water tank/tower should be embraced and maintained by the municipality as it describe the historical background of Lwandle. We demand the City of Cape Town Municipality to deploy more resources to clean our dirty locations and hire young people to maintain such historical points not demolish them.”

The water tank is situated next to houses and there is a food garden below it. The roads next to it are riddled with potholes and water flows on the streets.

The water tank has been useful to give people directions around the area and is used as a bus stop section by minibus taxi drivers. Children also used to climb up and play in the tank.

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Another resident Nomsa Xaba questioned if the tank is worth keeping.

“We have potholes that need to be fixed and what purpose does that this tank serve? The museum is around the corner for preserving our history. There are budget cuts across all departments and we cannot afford to have a budget to maintain a tank that is not useful.”

Local councillor Jongidumo Maxheke said he was aware that there are plans to demolish the water tank.

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“The matter has not been tabled and discussed in council and I cannot comment on whether I support or oppose the demolish of the tank. I first need to understand the matter fully. However, I heard that the tank puts the community at risk.”

Mayco member for waste and water Xanthea Limberg said the tank does not currently pose a threat, as it is not filled with water and therefore not bearing a load.

“However, as it is not in use and therefore not maintained, the City can’t guarantee the safety of the structure or leave it there permanently. The asset reached the end of its lifespan, as all eventually do, from an engineering perspective.”

She further said her department conducted a review of all redundant structures as a housekeeping exercise.

“The water and sanitation department has no further or alternative use for the tower, and no other parties wished to take ownership of it, so the process to consider its removal was initiated.”

She also said public participation came and passed.

“Community submissions have been sent to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for consideration and further comment. Water and Waste awaits their input.

“All comments and HWC input will then be considered at the Immovable Property Adjudication Committee before a decision is taken on whether to demolish the structure. Thereafter, formal council approval will be sought.“

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