The mayoral committee member for area north, Suzette Little, came to Hout Bay on the insistence of Hangberg community leaders who were “tired” of having to travel to other areas to be briefed by City officials.
By Ms Little’s own admission, she had been “put on the spot” at a recent meeting in Kraaifontein, where these leaders put forward that if Hout Bay’s challenges were to be adequately addressed, she needed meet with the people of the town first-hand.
But while she answered this call by presenting the City’s integrated and development plan (IDP) and draft budget for area north at the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre on Wednesday April 19, she was also quick to point out that without the commitment of the local community, any City initiative would be severely hamstrung.
Ms Little specifically tailored her budget presentation to Hout Bay, recognising that it faced its own unique challenges.
“If you look at Hout Bay, you (community) can’t say, ‘We want to do as we please’, but then when something happens you ask, ‘Where’s the City?” You can’t build houses on a fire break. How are we supposed to get to you if something happens?”she said in reference to the recent fires in Imizamo Yethu.
Explaining that the City’s new area-based service delivery model, which had resulted in the appointment of four “mini-mayors” of which she is one, Ms Little said she was very aware of the social ills blighting Hangberg.
“But I am also aware that we are very quick to say the drug dealers and gangsters are coming from other areas. But these are our kids, and we need to face that. That is why the City is focusing on initiatives like that Girls Matter programme, which gets teenage mothers back into school. You must realise that SASSA (social grants) are not going to educate your children. They need to be in school.”
Turning to social services, she said the bulk of the City’s budget would be going to social services. However, if these were to be rolled out effectively, Hangberg needed to change the way it engaged with the City.
“I’ve heard some people are stopping the Metro police from coming in here. We need to ask these people why are they doing this? Are they hiding something? We need to change the way we think if we are to work together.”
Recently, the City announced new tariff hikes for water and electricity, and these are awaiting approval.
Under the new scheme, people living in homes valued at R400 000 or more will no longer get their first six kilolitres of water free and those with homes worth R1 million or more will be hit with a R246 monthly electricity charge before they so much as turn on a light.
The new tariffs are out for public comment. If approved they come into effect on July 1.
Audience members were concerned that they would be affected by the hikes.
Ms Little said for indigent households, many of which occur in Hangberg, the first six kilolitres would be free. An audience member then asked her to explain the equation in buckets, as this was how the allocation was determined in the area.
“When the Sea View flats were built in Hangberg, we were told we could only take a certain number of buckets,” the woman said.
Ms Little said the community should keep in mind that residents living in rental stock had their water and electricity costs included in their rental.
“The problem comes in when you’ve got three families living on one property. There are people living in backyards who are paying rent, but not to the City. Then when the water is finished, they complain. Rather pay an extra R50 a month to the City, then the water won’t be finished,” she said.
She understood that this information was not known to everyone, and told the audience she would organise pamphlets to be distributed relaying these points.
On the issue of housing, some audience members voiced concern that the community residential units still being constructed in Hangberg would not endure the south-easterly wind, and were built of poor materials. This fear stemmed from “sub-standard” developments built in the past.
Ms Little said the development currently under construction was “the most beautiful block of rental stock I’ve ever seen” but every effort would be made to “make it better”.
Roscoe Jacobs, secretary of the Hout Bay Civic Association, asked Ms Little whether she would be handed a “discretionary fund” such as that of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, as monies were needed to support youth soccer in Hout Bay. He also asked that the new MyCiti tariffs be included in the draft budget. Ms Little agreed to look into these matters.
Speaking to the Sentinel this week, Marguerite Bond-Smith, chairperson of the Llandudno Special Ratings Area and Llandudno Ratepayers Association, said the proposed tariff hikes were concerning.
“The rates are an issue for our older residents, who have seen an increase of between 300 and 400% on their rates in recent years,” she said.
“Something we have questioned is the City’s indigent policy. Our pensioner households might get in R20 000 a month, but half of that is going on rates. Yet they receive no rates relief, when people in other areas do. Many of our older residents are in fact worse off than people in other areas.”
Ms Bond-Smith described the City’s approach to older Llandudno residents as “callous”.
“Basically the approach is if you can’t afford the rates, sell your house. We as older folk are being pushed out of our homes, when you have swallows (foreigners who live in Cape Town only part of the year) living here only three months of the year. But we are the ones spending money here all year round. This is something that needs to be addressed.”
She added the SRA acknowledged that there needed to be social upliftment in Cape Town, but it was also concerned that only 15% of rates monies were being spent back in Llandudno.