Richwood residents fence off

A woman makes her way across the field before crossing the N7.

Kenneth Brookes is the new chairman of the Richwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (RRRA), but while he may be a fresh face at the helm, he will be dealing with the same old issues in the area.

Mr Brookes was elected at the RRRA’s annual general meeting at the Richwood community hall on Monday May 22. “Our biggest problem is safety and security in Richwood,” said Mr Brookes.

“We’ve been promised so many things in our area but they never materialise.”

He wants a fence erected to secure Woodlands Drive between Jonkershoek and Morris Shell drives, something residents have been asking for for years (“Call to fence killer freeway,” Tabletalk, January 14,2015).

More than two years ago Mr Brookes’s predecessor, Danny Bolton, said they had tried since 1999 to secure the area.

At the time, Mr Bolton told Tabletalk that pedestrians, motorists and animals had died on the N7 because there was no fence.

Government officials, he said, had visited the area and seen the situation for themselves but still the fence had not been built.

Mr Bolton had also complained about illegal dumping on a field next to the N7 when he spoke to Tabletalk more than two years ago. Last week, it was Mr Brookes’s turn.

He stood on the field, just as Mr Bolton had done, and brought up the same issues.

He pointed out the rubbish and building rubble dumped on the field and noted the pedestrians walking across the N7.

He said his “biggest gripe” was Goodwood getting a 8km fence last week along the N1 highway but Richwood couldn’t get it right to get a 800m fence.

The fence Mr Brookes is referring to is being built by the Department of Correctional Services along the perimeter of Goodwood prison to prevent squatting on the prison grounds.

Mr Brookes said the fence would make the suburb safer, controlling access to the area through a pedestrian gate.

“It would make it easier for the neighbourhood watch and other authorities to patrol and monitor. As it is now, it is difficult to monitor at all,” he said.

Richwood resident Glen Marais said an 800m fence would not bankrupt the City.

“It’s all we have asked for the last few years. Is it really too much to ask for? Is our community’s safety not a concern for the city? Or do we wait for someone to be murdered or raped. Our kids cannot even walk our streets safely,” said Mr Marais.

The City, however, has no plans to build a fence.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said a fence would stop some of the City’s “poorest residents” from walking to train stations and bus and taxi ranks.

“They sometimes have to face extreme weather conditions – wind, rain, sun. A fence will serve no other purpose but to make their journey longer.”

Mr Herron said the City favoured pedestrian-friendly projects over fence building.

Mr Brookes also complained that Richwood’s Thibault and Rustenberg parks were pitch dark at night and needed street lights.

“During winter it’s dark in the morning as well. There are multiple hideouts in the form of trees and bushes.”

He sent Tabletalk reference numbers for several street light appeals he said residents had logged with the City without success.

Tabletalk sent these to the City, and Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, responded saying the logged notifications referred to private roads “where the owner must supply and maintain the street lights”.

Mr Brookes also complained that licence plate recognition cameras had still not been installed in the suburb despite being talked about since 2000 by the council.

Tabletalk asked Ward 1 councillor Cheryl Visser about the camera project but she referred us to the City of Cape Town’s media office, which did not respond to that query by the time Tabletalk went to print.

On Monday night thieves who had tried to steal a motorcycle in Morris Shell Drive escaped across a large piece of vacant land, which Mr Bolton had previously complained about (“Residents irked by vacant plot,” Tabletalk, March 18, 2015).

Mr Brookes said he was tired of being stonewalled by the City.

“The City needs to highlight that we have problems and step up and show us how they are going to help. We don’t want excuses about budget restrictions,” he said.