Reversing the rot in Wynberg

Mayoral Urban Regeneration Project funding of R2m to R2.15m to be spent on six to seven law enforcement officers at the Wynberg public transport interchange.

The latest step in stopping the rot that has settled in Wynberg got the thumbs up at the sub-council meeting held at the Alphen Centre on Wednesday April 20.

The motion to use R2m to R2.15m Mayoral Urban Regeneration Project (MURP) for the 2022/23 financial year for extra law enforcement officers was welcomed.

Ward councillor Emile Langenhoven said this is another step in getting Wynberg back on track. He said each law enforcement officer costs about R300 000 a year, so the bulk, if not the entire budget will be spent on six to seven law enforcement officers in the Wynberg public transport interchange (PTI). He said these officers will work during peak hours and not just the normal working day.

Wynberg police spokesperson Captain Silvino Davids said extra visibility and enforcement in that area would be of huge assistance. “We need all the visibility and enforcement in that area because of the amount of people who make use of the interchange. The type of crime most prevalent in that area is drug peddling and also stolen property that finds its way there. Another issue is traffic congestion and taxis parking illegally,” said Captain Davids.

Gene Lohrentz, spokesperson for the Wynberg Improvement District, said the officers have the power to confiscate goods, make arrests, issue compliance notices and fines and shut down illegal operations where by-laws are infringed upon.

“Urban challenges at the interchange include anti-social behaviour of drinking and urinating in public, littering, drug abuse, aggressive begging plus by-law transgressions of illegal dumping and unpermitted informal trading,” said Mr Lohrentz.

On a visit to the interchange on Wednesday, one of these traders said officers chase them away because they do not have permits to trade. When they ask how they can get the permits they are told there is not enough space. So they formed a group, Vukuzenzele (get up and do it yourself) Wynberg Traders.

Facilitator, Juliana Nyakeru said the group is looking for ways to earn a living and feed their children. Sometimes their goods are confiscated and they pay about R800 to get them back, plus R500 court fine. “We cannot afford this,” said Ms Nyakeru who has been selling clothes at the precinct for 10 years.

The Wynberg (MURP) came about after then mayor Dan Plato conducted a walkabout through the CBD on Thursday May 23, 2019, organised by former councillor Liz Brunette.

This means that more law-enforcement officers will be deployed to Wynberg. The Wynberg CBD and particularly the interchange has high footfall due to it being a transport node for people visiting Wynberg Magistrate’s Courts, clinic, Home Affairs office and library.

Mr Lohrentz said MURP funding previously went towards additional private security patrol officers but this ended on Monday February 28. “These officers made an impact on the public environment and safety and increased the visible foot patrols while decreasing incidents. The officers also acted as the eyes and ears of the police and often prevented criminal activities from happening in the first place. They were also instrumental in addressing anti-social behaviour and illegal informal trade. We were hopeful that the deployment of these officers would be reconsidered but it does not seem to be financially feasible,” said Mr Lohrentz.

MURP manager, Ivan Anthony said when the contract ended a new tender went out and that is why the officers will only begin on Friday July 1.

La Plaisance, on the corner of Main and Riverstone roads, will be repurposed and reused by the City’s safety and security department.

At the sub-council meeting, Mr Langenhoven raised the issue of the heritage house, La Plaisance on the corner of Main and Riverstone roads. He said the property is presently being guarded by a security company at a cost of R20 000 to R30 000 each month.

The property will be repurposed and reused by the City’s safety and security department with law enforcement officers moving from their base in Wellington Road into this property. Mr Langenhoven said safety and security will be responsible for security, maintenance, budgeting income and expenditure management and performance reporting.

Mr Langenhoven said this building has historical value and significance and asked for protection to be made urgently to protect the interior but the thatch roof has collapsed with a massive hole which is a great threat to the interior of the building. He asked for interim work to be done to the roof before winter rains to protect the interior of the building until an architect and structural engineer are appointed. The official attending the meeting on behalf of the City’s property department said he would follow up on this.

Another issue to receive a unanimous vote was for ward 73 allocation of R112 000 for the Plumstead library. This will be used for grant in aid for social upliftment, drug abuse/ rehabilitation, but this is not yet confirmed, according to councillor Eddie Andrews.

A bullnose barrier in Egham Road was installed as part of the last MURP funding to keep traffic, especially taxis free flowing.
Informal traders at the public transport interchange have formed Vukuzenzele (get up and do it yourself) Wynberg Traders to look at ways to earn a living and feed their children.
Six to seven law enforcement officers will patrol the Wynberg public transport interchange during peak hours and not just the normal working day.