Thank you

John Holtzhausen, Wynberg

Thank you for highlighting the plight of Wynberg residents who are being held to ransom by vagrants living in two derelict and condemned Department of Public Works (DPW) houses in Waterloo Green and preying on residents of the area (“Derelict Houses a headache”, Bulletin, January 24.)

Sadly the situation at the Waterloo houses and on the field in Cavan (Road) has not changed – and again last week a vulnerable resident was forced to open a case after police arrested vagrants – squatting in the houses – who had burgled her home.

We have asked ward councillor Liz Brunette to prepare an action plan to submit to council. We are calling for fencing off the open property to reduce the crime and the very real health risk.

The canal running through the property is currently used as an open latrine with the filthy, stinky sewage water passing through our properties as well as the Simon van der Stel school and filling the dam (a popular picnic spot) in Maynardville Park.

On Friday February 15, vagrants were seen passing Wynberg Girls’ School gate in Cavan – one armed with a knife in his back pocket – returning from the canal to collect water. I sincerely hope that we do not have to wait for someone to be stabbed or a Wynberg school pupil attacked before action is taken.

Jan Kruger of the City’s media office said the enquiry should be directed to the national Department of Public Works as they are the owners of the property.

With regard to the safety situation, the South African Police Service should be approached as the primary crime prevention authority.

The Bulletin sent enquiries to both but they did not respond by the time of going to print.

Ron Middleton, Southfield

I formed a petition with the various reasons for the objections (“New flats for Southfield”, Bulletin December 6). I consulted and had it signed by 55 nearby neighbours – at the time of this holiday period, with people away, this would have been more.

As objections closed on Tuesday January 22 I felt it safer to send it earlier, on Monday January 14 with a request for an acknowledgement of receipt from the council district manager.

I sent it again to one of his staff. Then I called on the council office in Plumstead where the counter lady stamped and photo copied it. I have since sent another email. All this with not a single reply from council.

What is worrying about the matter, is perhaps when get no acknowledgement, the next minute the flats are being built.

If you can be of any help it will be appreciated. I want the people who signed the petition to know that I have not let them down.

Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, responds:

When a person submits an objection via email and sends this to the generic objection/ comment email address he/ she will get an automated acknowledgement response. All of these objections/ comments are collated by the City’s development management department’s local district office who is dealing with the application. When a person submits an objection over the counter he/ she can request for a copy of the objection to be stamped as proof of submission, as occurred in this case and as is clear from the letter.

The City’s development management department must, in terms of the Municipal Planning By-law (2015), provide the applicant with the opportunity to reply to comments and objections against the said application.

The objections and comments, as well as the applicant’s comments/ response to these, are included in a report that is drafted by the City’s development management department. This report, inclusive of the application and a recommendation for approval or refusal, serves before the Municipal Planning Tribunal for decision. Neither the assessment, nor the report, has been concluded as yet.

Rina Tosi, Wynberg

I wrote three emails to ward councillor Liz Brunette regarding the condition of the pond in Maynardville Park but with no success. She did not reply to any of my emails.

I wrote to her on Saturday January 26 and resent the same email about two weeks later. I wrote another email on Tuesday February 12 and I’m still waiting for even acknowledgement of my emails.

The pond is full of plastic bags and bottles, branches, cardboard etc. The ducks stay out of the water. The hyacinth is covering most of the water surface. The water looks oily and black and there is a very bad smell.

Even with the open air theatre in full swing, nothing is being done about the pond. There are lots of people walking in the park. Others with dogs (picking up after the dog) children’s parties over weekends, creches bring the little ones to play on jungle gym etc. I have photos on my phone.

Really, I would think that councillor Brunette would be interested in the park. Kindly come to the rescue of all the people using the park, the birds and ducks.

Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral member for committee services and health, responds: A service provider has been appointed and is currently busy clearing the water lilies (not hyacinth) in the pond. Approximately 35% of the work has already been completed. Work was temporarily stopped two weeks ago in order to review the service provider’s safety plan.

There were concerns around the contractor’s standards for staff safety while working in large bodies of water, and this matter is being resolved. The clearing will resume immediately after a proper plan is in place, which is estimated to be no later than mid-March.

The Recreation and Parks Department clears the ponds of vegetation on an annual basis during this time of the year. In February and March, pond water levels are at their lowest which makes it easier to remove the water lilies. This is a specialised service and can be quite costly.

There has also been an increase in the volume of litter washed into the ponds from upstream. The department has a weekly cleaning schedule but new litter enters the ponds in a constant stream.

A feasible solution may be to install a litter trap further upstream. This option will, however, need to be explored in consultation with the City’s water and waste management directorate. The removal of aquatic vegetation which is currently under way, will make litter collection easier and more effective in the coming months.

David Vlok, Diep River

With interest I read the letter (“Incomplete fence a danger”, Bulletin January 24) written by Stuart Buckley regarding the incomplete fencing, and the comment from Metrorail spokesperson Ms Riana Scott.

Since the article I have been monitoring the progress of the installation of the fencing. I reside next to the railway line between Diep River and Steurhof stations where the installation stopped approximately 35 metres short of an eight foot vibracrete wall. Ms Scott stated that the installation is primarily to demarcate boundaries. Maybe she can explain why 35 metres short of completing the demarcation the work has stopped. I question the financial position as the 35 metres would not have any impact on this multi-million rand contract.

Ms Scott denies the security / safety of the fencing, but as you can see on the attached photo there is a tunnel which has been closed off with the palisade fencing.

I went to great expense to cut back a hedge to make it easier for the installation. Maybe I was wrong to assume that they would continue and complete the palisade fencing, but at no stage has anybody contacted me regarding this installation.

I managed to trace and contact a very helpful Mr Visagie (021 507 2906) from Metrorail who informed me that this is as far as they are going as there is no benefit to Metrorail. Mr Visagie said they will complete the fence if I go “halves” with Metrorail.

My concern here is that should I go halves with them, and in future a decision is made to change the fencing I will be out of pocket. The palisade fencing has been constructed on Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) land.

Keep up the good work with the Bulletin and community reporting.