As Covid-19 continues to dominate our lives, we look back on the year and some of the stories to hit the Constantiaberg Bulletin’s headlines.
While we are now officially in the fourth wave of Covid infections, we started 2021 in the peak of the second wave. While the country remained on revised level-three lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced further restrictions on Monday January 11 including the closure of 20 land borders and the sale of alcohol was still prohibited (“Elderly will get Covid jab after health-care workers,” Bulletin, February 4).
The third wave followed in mid-June with lockdown announced on June 29 as well as a drive to get everyone vaccinated (“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” August 6).
Another major event this year was the municipal elections. The Constantia valley said goodbye to its three ward councillors, Carol Bew, Liz Brunette and Penny East.
On a rainy Monday November 1, voters turned out to make their mark (“DA support dips, but Constantia stays blue,” Bulletin November 11). This paved the way for ex-Springbok rugby player Eddie Andrews (in a dual role as deputy mayor), IT specialist Emile Langenhoven and businesswoman Carolynne Franklin.
In January, we reported that some Plumstead residents and businesses had formed the Gabriel Road Area Project Association (GRAPA) to tackle vagrancy in the area, including the Gabriel Road traffic circle (“First Grapa AGM hears plans to tackle vagrancy,” Bulletin, January 28).
More recently, some of them met with Mr Langenhoven and Mr Andrews to discuss the ongoing issue (“Call for action over Plumstead squatters,” Bulletin, November 18).
In March, mayor Dan Plato toured the Wynberg business district to see what progress had been made since the area was declared a mayoral urban regeneration programme (MURP) in August 2019 (“Wynberg walkabout with mayor,” Bulletin, March 18).
In a 2018, walkabout, Ms Brunette said municipal arrears for the Uli Heydt property bounded by Main, Ebor and York roads had run into millions of rand. We found the building packed with tenants living in dark, filthy rooms with poor sanitation and dubious electricity fittings. Nothing has changed.
MyCiTi plans for the Wynberg Plumstead area started picking up in the middle of the year with the launch of a hefty heritage impact assessment (HIA) report. The public could comment on the City’s application – including demolitions and property expropriation – to make way for Phase 2A of MyCiTi (“Wynberg MyCiTi picking up steam,” Bulletin, July 22). This will link Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Claremont and Wynberg at a cost of R7.1 billion (“Heritage application for MyCiTi,” July 29).
The comments were included in the final report, which was supposed to be heard in a virtual meeting on Wednesday September 22, but the meeting was cancelled and Heritage Western Cape has sent the designers back to the drawing board.
Mayoral committee member for transport, Rob Quintas, said there would likely be another round of public comment in the latter part of 2022.
Pollution continued to plague valley waterways that feed into Zandvlei and then False Bay.
At Easter, dying fish, suffocating crabs and the stench of sewage were the last straw for 4 158 Marina da Gama, Muizenberg and Lakeside residents who signed a petition demanding action from the City (“Petition takes City to task over Zandvlei pollution,” April 15).
In July, Ms Franklin, who at that time was the chairperson of the Kirstenhof and Environs Residents Association (KERA), said she had lodged a complaint about sewage smells on the eastern side of the M3 on Thursday July 1 but nothing had been done.
Following this, Westlake Village community leader Tony Jantjies threatened to take the City to court for not cleaning along the Keyser River (“Pollution plagues Keyser River,” July 15).
Many of our stories that drew a lot of attention on social media had to do with trees.
Neighbours raised the alarm on hearing trees being felled at Woodhouse in Ringwood Close, off Southern Cross Drive (“Chainsaws gut Woodhouse of trees,” February 18). Once home to the late Judy Smuts, who loved her garden and would open it annually for charity fund-raisers, it was the last straw as the chainsaws closed in on an oak tree on the pavement.
And Plumstead residents were devastated that a majestic oak tree had been cut down on the neighbouring empty plot (“Residents fume over felling of majestic oak,” April 22). Marianne Rossouw and her partner John Moore, estimated the tree to be over 100 years-old. Across the road, Jason Katz and his family said they thinking of selling up and moving on because of the incident.
The “horrendous mutilation” of indigenous trees by Constantia Village fell under the spotlight after years of being given a full top cut by the mall’s pruning contractor (“Outcry over Constantia Village tree pruning,” March 11).
TreeKeepers, a tree-conservancy group, and Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (CRRA) got involved in saving a grove of endangered silver trees at the site of a proposed retirement village on the Schoenstatt grounds (“Saving Schoenstatt’s silver trees,” March 25).
A resident living alongside Doordrift Greenbelt called us when invasive trees were being cut down along the stream (“City clears invasive trees on greenbelt, May 4). In September, indigenous plants were planted and 2nd Bergvliet Sea Scouts and Cubs have, on two occasions, done follow up cleaning the greenbelt.
In June, scores of EFF supporters protested in Tokai after resident Arthur McKey claimed his fruit trees had been poisoned because he had allowed black children to take fruit that had fallen from his 80-year-old guava tree. A neighbour had told him he was attracting the “wrong kind of people” to the area, he alleged (“EFF picket over ’poisoned’ tree,” June 12).
The following month, in Meadowridge, the City was called to investigate removal of municipal trees outside a house in Newton Drive (“City investigating removal of verge tree,” July 8).