Is there hope for Phoenix? That was the question residents wanted to have answered at a meeting with Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz last Friday.
Mr Fritz claimed to be there as the MEC for Community Safety, but, dressed in DA-branded clothing, he lent tacit support to the party’s ward candidate.
About 30 residents gathered on an open field along Freedom Way to hear Mr Fritz talk and to have their say about what they feel are increasingly poor living conditions in the area. A handful of DA representatives in the party’s distinctive blue T-shirts were also present.
Mr Fritz said he had been invited by Anthony Benadie, the DA’s Ward 4 candidate, to speak at the gathering in his capacity as Community Safety MEC.
Noticing the DA-branded jacket and T-shirt that Mr Fritz was wearing, we asked him to confirm whether he was indeed there as the MEC, and he said he was.
A flyer advertising the meeting also indicated that Mr Fritz would be attending in his capacity as the MEC.
Those at the meeting complained that the government and the City of Cape Town had neglected the area.
Mr Fritz agreed with that sentiment. He said he had lived in Phoenix Phase 2 about 10 years ago and was “shocked” at the state the area was in.
Looking around at an illegal dumping site near Freedom Way, Mr Fritz told Tabletalk that he had not expected the neighbourhood to be “in such a bad state”.
He encouraged residents and neighbourhood watches to work with SAPS and City Law Enforcement and report incidents immediately.
“Change starts within the community,” he said, urging residents to take ownership of the neighbourhood.
But some have little hope of things ever improving. “Phoenix is at the point of no return,” said resident Leonie Malan.
She agreed that residents were contributing to the “illegalities in the area”, including illegal dumping, but added that the police were also not doing enough.
Phoenix Ratepayers’ and Community Forum chairwoman Linda Mqikela said Phoenix was a “forgotten community” and politicians only showed up at election time.
Phoenix was unsafe, with people being robbed nearly daily, and the authorities failed to act against law-breaking taxis, she said.
“Thieves walk into your homes and rob you in broad daylight,” she said.
Residents were encouraged to give tip-offs to the police but the information was then leaked, putting their lives in danger, she said.
Her requests to Ward 4 councillor Mlulami Ngeyi to clean up and fix the parks had gone unanswered, she said.
“The parks in this community are not fenced and hardly have any equipment for our children to play on and most of the equipment that is there, is broken.”
Phoenix was always left out of the ward budget, she said, claiming there had been no improvements in the neighbourhood.
Phase 2 residents, she said, were battling to get the open gravel areas along Freedom Way cleaned because informal traders were using them and there had been many land invasion attempts there that residents had put a stop to themselves, but requests “to fix Phoenix,” had fallen on deaf ears.
Mr Benadie, who hopes to be the area’s next ward councillor, said he had been in politics for 23 years and was confident he could bring positive change to the community.
Residents would be the “guiding force” of what action should be taken, he said, adding that almost “everything in the ward is an issue,” including housing, education, safety, gangsterism and drugs, water and sewerage.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done and I hope to form relationships with leaders of the community and immediately get to work after elections,” he said.
Tabletalk sent emails to Mr Ngeyi, following up with calls and text messages but received no responses by time of publication.
Milnerton police said they would respond to our questions but did not before this edition went to print.