Those who sabotage agricultural land for gain must be billed

Cape Times
October 4, 2013

THE PHILIPPI Horticultural Area (PHA), “a rural area under the mountain”, has been neglected, with the groundwater allowed to be polluted -and this is where a large percentage of Cape Town’s vegetables to retail and informal green grocer vendors comes from.

The principal of Dietrich Moravian Primary School in the area has in the past month been in hospital for two weeks with pneumonia, and a further two weeks recovering at home due to the dampness caused by a complete lack of suitable city underground infrastructure to the rural school and proper infrastructure to the area, which we all take for granted in the suburbs.

There is no proper shelter on the way to school. Therefore when the children get to school on rainy days they are soaked.

To prevent the poor little ones from getting sick the teachers have to bring towels, heaters and spare clothes to school so they can dry the children before teaching begins.

The area and school depend on church and private donations as very little comes from the city and province.

The principal has been pleading for years for the Western Cape provincial government to put in proper flush toilets as they only have access to a septic tank, while the poor lighting and poor stale of the roads make for a very unsafe area in winter.

During winter most of the area floods, and it looks like a disaster zone, reminiscent of South East Asia’s monsoon season.

The city takes no responsibility even though the community has records that numerous attempts have been made since 2009 to proactively engage the city and the province.

The farming community complains that a developer has, over the last few years, been buying up land in the area and letting it fall into ruin while the city has not laid on proper infrastructure to rural communities and informal settlements.

They therefore dig deep holes and bury tons of human waste, which then seeps into the groundwater and contaminates the vegetables that end up on our dinner tables.

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance’s engagement with Unesco’s Groundwater chairman, Professor Yongxin Xu, reveals that “our concern would be the neglect and resultant degradation of groundwater in general, specifically the Cape Flats Aquifer, and its role in the water-sensitive development strategy of the City of Cape Town.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille’s only response to the PHA community however is shocking. It seems that she is only interested in trying to politicise the suffering, while ignoring what could become an environmental disaster under her watch.

On September 30, the alliance noted in the mayor’s newsletter “Cape Town This Week: Cape Town’s water supply allows the City to maintain high levels of service delivery” how she espoused all the virtues of Cape Town and it’s water infrastructure, and boasted about the 100 years of infrastructure we enjoy.

Miss Caron van Zyl of Reclaim Camissa, however, states this period to be much longer and goes back to when Cape Town was referred to as Little Amsterdam, where grachts were used to provide water, later pipes were laid by the British colonial government

Cape Town thus has almost a 200-year head start over rural provinces, but still falls short when providing these services and infrastructure to previously disadvantaged areas and agricultural land within Cape Town’s borders.

We thus urgently request that Mayor De Lille forthwith engage the PHA community representatives. She must ensure that all corrective action be taken to provide the Dietrich Moravian Primary School, and surrounding communities with proper underground infrastructure.

She must hold those responsible for sabotaging agricultural land for material gain financially accountable for its rehabilitation.

Lester September
Portfolio: Transport and Stormwater
Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance

1 comment to Those who sabotage agricultural land for gain must be billed

  • Jackie Ruppersberg

    Just come to us and we can give you a lot of paperwork and photos about the battle in the last years. zThis year been worst than ever. Sewerege been pumped out onto the roads, natural rivers been filked up and been through all relevant departments and its an battle lost before you even starts. PLEASE MRS MAYOR COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELF AND DONT LET YOUR DEPT TELL YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. ITS NOT JUST A FEW PPL BEEN AFFECTED BY THIS BUT THOUSANDS.

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