Looking back on 2017

Central Primary continues to be neglected.

One year ago to the day, Central Primary, in Diep River, hit headlines as a school that should be noisy with squeals and chatter of children (“School still an eyesore,” December 15). Instead it is being stripped as government departments quibble over it.

South Peninsula High School (SPHS) acting principal Zeid Baker said there were complications around negotiating a lease between the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the national departments of Basic Education and Public Works.

The school has been trying to gain access to the building for about 11 years. In June 2015, pupils chanted and marched to the building making it clear they wanted to occupy and rehabilitate the abandoned primary school.

According to Mr Baker there are historical links between the schools and their respective communities, especially during apartheid.

“South Peninsula High School’s aim is to have this history documented and preserved in a room at Central Primary. Also, our arts and science programme continues to grow and facilities on the current site are limited,” he said.

However, Mr Baker is still waiting to hear about Central Primary’s fate, and meanwhile the building, which is owned by the national Department of Public Works, is deteriorating every day.

Westlake and Wynberg communities were rocked by the brutal stabbings of two women earlier this year.

Mzuvukile Poni appeared in Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday January 26 (“United call for justice,” Bulletin February 2). He was charged with the murder of his wife, Vuniseka Poni, 32, mother of three children aged 14 months, 6 and 12.

Mr Poni had allegedly chased his wife to a friend’s house and stabbed her following an argument at their Westlake home. Mr Poni is still awaiting trial and it has been postponed until next year.

\On Thursday July 6 Liezel van der Linde, 44, was stabbed twice in the back in her Sydney Road home in Wynberg (“Concerned about crime,” July 13).

Ms Van der Linde, a dog sitter, had been saving to send her foster daughter Jaylene, 9, to a gymnastics tournament in Johannesburg.

Wynberg’s crime and grime featured several times in the Bulletin this year (“Wynberg’s grime worry,” Bulletin June 29; “Concerned about crime,” July 13; “Decay a solid bet,” August 24).

As the drought tightened its grip on the Cape Town, Professor Chris Harris, of UCT’s Department of Geological Sciences, spoke at a water workshop in Constantia in October (“Getting wiser with water,” Bulletin October 19).

Professor Harris debunked perceptions of an underground lake or dam beneath Cape Town that could be tapped at any time, and he cautioned borehole users that if water was sucked out faster than the aquifer could be recharged it would cause subsidence if not properly monitored.

Since that meeting, a City proposal for drought levy – to pay for desalination plants, boreholes and other measures to augment the water supply – has gone out for public comment and could be implemented from February 1 . (“Getting wiser with water”, Bulletin October 19).

Public comment can be sent to WaterPollution.Control@capetown.gov.za. The deadline is January 8.

Architect Nic Louw is continuing with his battle to protect three heritage properties in a cul-de-sac alongside Waterloo Green in Wynberg, which the Bulletin first wrote about earlier this year (“Big woes at Waterloo,” Bulletin April 20).

One of the three houses, which is on the corner of Ellerslie Road and Waterloo Green, appears to be legally occupied and in is good condition, but the same cannot be said for the other two. The one is dilapidated and surrounded by litter and rats. The other, Ye Olde Thatch, was gutted by a fire in November (“Historical house up in flames,” Bulletin November 9).

All three houses are managed by the national Department of Public Works, and, as they are all more than 60 years old, should have general protection under heritage law. This means a permit has to be granted by Heritage Western Cape before any changes can be made to the houses.

Wynberg police have arrested several people for trespassing at the houses.

Next year is set to be a big one for campaigners fighting to save the Philippi Horticultural Area from several developments passed by the City and Province (“PHA in spotlight,” Bulletin September 21). They argue that losing the 3000 ha of farmland could push up food prices and degrade underground water quality.

Plumstead resident Gavin Lawson has been involved with the PHA Campaign since 2009, when he heard about the problems facing the area from Nazeer Sonday, who founded the PHA Campaign.

The PHA is also a major catchment for the 630km2 Cape Flats Aquifer. In September, the PHA Campaign held a four-day summit where experts signed a proclamation calling for the farmland to be protected.

At the summit, Mr Lawson drew attention to Consol’s plan to mine for silica on the 50 to 65 ha west of Ottery Road. It would leave a 30m deep hole covering 55 ha of sterile soil, he said.

A further 250 ha has been earmarked for prospecting.

Meanwhile, Atlantic Sands has applied to mine sand for building from 12ha on at the corner of Vesuvius Avenue and Spine Road. The site is zoned agricultural and is a critical biodiversity area vegetated by a remnant of 5.4ha Cape Flats Dune Strandveld.

At the southern end of the PHA thousands of tons of sand have been removed to build Cape Town.

“When mining started we didn’t know the impact it would have on its role in the ecology of the area. How it holds water and regulates flooding,” said Mr Sonday.

PHA farmer Jasper Terblanche said sand mining was a huge problem. “Sand acts like a sponge, cleaning water, leaving behind pollutants. That’s why the PHA is so good for farming,” he said.

At that time, the Bulletin contacted two companies said to be involved with sand mining, but neither responded to emails and phone calls. One of them was Cape Concrete.

Darty Louw, of Cape Concrete, has since contacted the Bulletin saying a caption under a photograph we published (“Silica mining destroys environment,” November 9) had incorrectly claimed his company was mining sand from dunes at the southern section of the PHA.

“We are not involved with, and never have been involved with ‘silica mining’. We did however mine building sand in the area nearly 20 years ago and have since fully rehabilitated the land, and it is currently, almost entirely, covered in farming activities,” said Mr Louw.

He said the land Cape Concrete own is also not included in the proposed developments. “In fact we have opposed silica sand mining in the PHA,” said Mr Louw.