Dead in the ashes

The roads in Phoenix are not properly paved.

Phoenix residents say they no longer know what to do to get service delivery from the City of Cape Town.

Russel Capes, Phoenix Neighbourhood Watch (PNW) chairman, says since Phoenix was built 23 years ago no further development has taken place.

He lists a lack of policing, overcrowding, problem buildings, poor lighting and collapsing infrastructure – including pothole-riddled roads and crumbling sewers – as some of problems blighting the neighbourhood and frustrating residents.

Earlier this year the ratepayers – including Mr Capes and Phoenix Ratepayers’ Association (PRA) chairwoman Ursulla Marshal – took their complaints to Sub-council 3 (“Ward committee schooled on its role”, Tabletalk, June 21).

“We were told not to come with a shopping list,” said Ms Marshal, “but we wouldn’t have a shopping list if our needs in the area were taken care of.”

Ms Marshal said Phoenix was becoming congested with unchecked densification.

“The City is trying to accommodate everyone moving to Cape Town. Our plot sizes are tiny, yet they approve hostels and boarding houses where 13 or 14 families live that should accommodate on average four or five people.”

She listed more than 10 properties in the area that she claimed were either overcrowded, had insufficient parking space or were drug dens.

Mr Capes said ten Phoenix organisations – including the PNW, the PRA and the Phoenix Youth organisation – were now registered on a City database.

“We were told registering these organisations would help us get our concerns heard, but nothing has happened. We have done everything humanly possible and by the book, yet not one issue has been solved.”

He said that in 1997 the City had “chopped up” Phoenix’s grass verges and replaced them with compressed gravel for tarred pavements, but 20 years later, no tar had been laid and the once-green verges were now patches of sand.

Tabletalk sent the City the residents’ complaints, along with supporting documentation from Mr Capes and Ms Marshal.

Ward 4 councillor Mlulami Ngeyi responded, saying his ward budget was “spread evenly” throughout his ward, and he listed “various interventions and developments” in Phoenix:

* Zeus Park had been upgraded.

* A netball field was being built next to the park.

* City law enforcement was dealing with illegal buildings and complaints about street people

* Licence-plate-recognition cameras were being installed.

* The feasibility of building a school in the area was being studied.

Mr Ngeyi said some facilities in Phoenix were being used by Joe Slovo residents to “optimise usage of City assets”, and he added that the City would continue to “liaise with the community, including all of the ward committees”.

Ms Marshal believes all Phoenix’s woes can be blamed on the DA councillors, who, she said, had done nothing for the area.

“They’ll never put a working councillor here. Ursula Barends is proof of that. She was endorsed by so many organisations, but she did not get the post. We want to know why,” she said.

Ms Barends was the PR councillor that stood in as Ward 4 councillor when Tando Jafta was expelled after complaints from residents about his unavailability.

But DA Metro regional chairman Grant Twigg said there was a process that had to followed when filling a vacancy for a ward councillor.

“When a vacancy arises within a ward, the party calls an open invitation to all individuals interested in becoming the councillor for that ward to apply. Interviews are then held where those applicants present themselves to an electoral college and selection panel, respectively, and the best candidates get ranked. It is important to note that members of the electoral college are different to those of the selection panel, which allows for due process and evaluation,” said Mr Twigg.

Residents could approach their councillor about any municipal issues they needed help with, and either the councillor or the residents could call public meetings to raise issues that the councillors could take up and give feedback on at a follow-up meeting. Such a meeting, said Mr Twigg, “will soon be arranged” within Ward 4.