Ratepayers elect new chairperson

SUMMER JACOBS

The Richwood Ratepayers’ Association (RRA) has welcomed a new chairman. Kim Krause has taken over the reins from Danny Bolton, who served as chairman and vice chairman intermittently from 1999.

Mr Krause, 60, was elected chairman at the annual general meeting held last month at the Richwood community hall.

Mr Bolton, 63, said he had stepped aside for fresh minds to take the RRA forward with new initiatives.

“I have had a great innings, and ultimately somebody had to take over the baton. My only regret is that none of our elected ward councillors had the gall to fight for the rights of some 50 families and elderly folk, whose streets remain in darkness after more than 30 years due to a lack of street lights,” he said.

During his time as chairman, he had tried to safeguard the interest of the ratepayers “free from any form of external pressure such as politics”.

“I have always been a human rights activist, and I suppose my experience as an 8th South African Infantry Battalion sergeant major coupled with national and local government experience gave me the edge to lead a very supportive ratepayers’ committee which also drew the support of the larger community.

“I also thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with the late David Graaff, owner of De Grendel farm, a true gentleman and visionary person. I still recall an occasion in 1999 when he took me on a tour of De Grendel in his 4×4 and stopped on a koppie overlooking Richwood, whereupon he laid out his vision of the future Burgundy Estates, golf course and all. Other highlights were the upgrading of our street lights and the implementation of street-calming measures such as speedbumps,” he said.

He said the Richwood Neighbourhood Watch had a “committed but very small core of volunteers” that urgently needed more members to fight crime in the area.

“In my view, Richwood will ultimately become a safer neighbourhood only if and when the political powers that be decide to rezone the public open space between the N7, Woodlands and Morrisshell drives in order for this land to be made available for development,” he said.

Mr Bolton will now spend most of his time with the Western Cape Province Municipal Alliance (WCMA). Launched a few months ago, it runs like a ratepayers’ association but on a larger scale.

Being at the helm, Mr Bolton will be working with municipal issues of previously disadvantaged communities. He is also an Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging (ATKV) member and was appointed as administrator in the Cochoqua Tribal House, which he describes as “the largest Khoi-San clan in South Africa”.

Asked what advice he had for the new chairman, he said: “The RRA’s constitution clearly states that it should remain non-political, and the new chairman must ensure this point never gets compromised, no matter your personal political affiliation.”

Mr Krause said he had been surprised at first about being elected as chairman, but felt that his reputation as vocal person was one of the reasons he was chosen.

“I’ve been going to these meetings for a couple of years, and I have a big mouth and I speak my mind. I don’t see the use in complaining about problems. Instead I look for solutions,” he said.

He said the Richmond business park development has been a hot topic for quite some time among residents, and he had decided to get hold of the developer and ask him to attend a meeting.

“It was the best attended meeting ever. At least double of what we usually get,” he said.

The job seekers who gather at the garage every day have become a contentious issue in Richwood and it’s one Mr Krause plans to prioritise.

“A majority of the people in the area want to see all of these work seekers banned from the area. I have a different approach to the problem, but I need to speak to someone about my idea. It basically involves putting up a temporary structure to shelter people and also help them to get work with the added benefit of controlling movement of both cars picking up people and people looking for work. I guess I am thinking of a sort of employment centre that give some of these workers a bit of dignity and benefits the community at the same time.

“I believe a caring community is the best example of helping each other, and I don’t think banning people from the area will actually accomplish anything but resentment.

“I realise that this is no small task, but I really think we can take a bad situation and turn it into a very positive one and maybe even change the mind-set of some people in the process,” said Mr Krause.

Originally from a small town called Schreiber in Canada, Mr Krause, who works in TV production, moved to South Africa almost 20 years ago.

He lived in Sea Point, Vredehoek and Bothasig before settling in Richwood four years ago.

He is no stranger to politics as his father was a councillor and served two terms as mayor in his hometown.

“He turned 81 last year, and he’s still in council. He taught me being a servant to the people is the first priority. He is definitely my biggest role model. I aspire to be like him,” he said.