Plans for Joe Slovo community forum

Councillor Wandisile Ngeyi with PR councillor Ursula Barends and Milnerton police station commander Brigadier Marius Stander and Colonel Lulama Lurwengu.

There are plans to establish a community forum in Joe Slovo to tackle the many problems plaguing the area.

New Ward 4 councillor Wandisile Mlulami Ngeyi and Milnerton SAPS are driving the initiative, and a meeting was held at Sinenjongo High School on Wednesday September 13, where Mr Ngeyi and Milnerton police station commander Brigadier Marius Stander outlined the proposal to about 25 people — mostly community leaders, as well as members of various organisations and political parties. It’s hoped that all the organisations will join the forum and present a single, united front in tackling issues in the community to build a “free and clean” Joe Slovo.

Brigadier Stander pointed to the high prevalence of drug use in the area.

“We are not free (in the area) if the principal of Marconi Beam (Primary) comes to me and tells me the 12-year-olds are using drugs. If those 12-year-olds can rob the senior girls of Sinenjongo High School, then we have a problem.”

He said he would like to see Phoenix, Joe Slovo and Montague Gardens working together to improve their neighbourhoods. But that could only be done, he said, if they worked with the police and councillors to make the communities safe.

“I can’t do it alone. The City can’t do it on it’s own. We have to work together for a better community,” said Brigadier Stander.

He said SAPS would stand with the communities to articulate their needs for houses and schools, among other things, to the City.

Tensions have been high in Joe Slovo since an illegal school was removed from City-owned land earlier this year (“School’s office torched,” Tabletalk, June 21) after which land invaders from Joe Slovo tried to build shacks on the empty land, leading to clashes with authorities (“MyCiTi bears brunt of anger,” Tabletalk, August 16).

Mr Ngeyi said the initiative would help to mend the strained relationship between the police and the community.

“It’s a fact that people aren’t happy with SAPS at the moment, but I believe that people need a second chance, so this initiative could be a way to once again build confidence in SAPS,” he said.

PR councillor Ursula Barends felt the forum would benefit the community, especially since it was supported by SAPS.

“The fact that Brigadier Stander came to the meeting shows that there is great promise,” she said.

However, Noxolo Mayeki, of the Joe Slovo Crisis and Development Committee, has her doubts.

“I don’t think that this will work because Stander doesn’t care about us. I think he wants us to have a neighbourhood watch, but the last time we used to patrol, we weren’t even supplied with jackets or any materials to help us patrol,” said Ms Mayeki.

She said if it became clear that the forum wasn’t helping them, the committee would have no problem disbanding it while it was still new.

Jonty de la Porte, from Montague Gardens-Marconi Beam Improvement District, said the forum could work if people used it for what it was intended.

“They must take politics out of it and remember that we are doing this for the community to benefit. People should not try to push any political or personal agendas.”

All the organisations at the meeting agreed that the forum would be beneficial for the community and should go ahead.

The next meeting will be held tomorrow, Thursday September 21 where a name for the forum will be proposed.