It’s time to stop being held to ransom by a few

Maghmood Allie, Plumstead

“Clean, safe and sound once more” or “A safer passage now fenced in” would be headlines I’m guessing not easily seen in any newspaper these days. Perhaps in a perfect world, yes, but then again, our world is far from perfect. One can but dream…

So in reality then the following rings true: “Call for Prasa to clean up its act“ (Constantiaberg Bulletin, November 17).

On November 14, ward councillor Carmen Siebritz arranged for the cleaning of a “squatter camp” under the bridge in Prince George Drive, the bridge itself linking the communities of Plumstead, Southfield and Fairways, the area reportedly home to about 15 people living in their shelters on either side of the railway line.

Besides being considered a health and safety risk, it has been stated that crime, homelessness and hygiene were major concerns and a lack of fencing makes the area a convenient escape route for the criminal element.

This is not a problem endemic to the Plumstead/Southfield/Fairways area. Unfortunately, these issues and concerns have found their way into almost every community, every suburb. Yes, one needs to have some compassion, some empathy for the homeless, but one has to question the fact that a minority is allowed to have such an adverse effect on the lives of so many merely wanting to exist peacefully.

I wish to mind my own business but sadly, not even that is possible. There are deep-rooted issues at play and we have every right to hold the authorities accountable. So whatever organisation or person we feel needs to play the game, our opinion needs to be heard. Sure, fear, intimidation or other threats will always be of concern to us, but if we are not heard or carry on with our inactivity, we will continue to be held to ransom by a few.

Our communities have to ensure that the “planned joint intervention (with the City of Cape Town) taking place daily”, referred to by Prasa acting regional manager Raymond Maseko is indeed carried out.

Councillor Siebritz stresses that “unfortunately there appears to be a lack of commitment” by Prasa and their failure to adequately maintain their property is a contributing factor to the crime and grime in the area. One is reminded of a similar situation in Wynberg where Prasa-owned land is an urban jungle in the literal sense: overgrown with bushes, grass and weeds tall and dense enough to hide the elements preying on the innocent residents and others trying to live their lives in the safety and comfort we all desire.

Bob Marley sang, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Do we have the will and energy to free ourselves from this slavery and open our hearts and minds to successfully tackle these challenges? I bet we can. But standing together is a challenge on its own. Very few communities can – and have – done so successfully. I truly hope that the councillor and affected communities can do so.