Residents of Steve Biko Street in Imizamo Yethu say they are tired of living with poor lighting, both at home and alongside the road.
They are also complaining about rubbish in the street, which is not collected regularly. Most Steve Biko residents have lived in the street for decades, having been allocated council houses by the Cape Town municipality.
Now retired, they had worked on roads and maintenance
in Hout Bay and Llandudno
Patricia Saunders, whose late husband was also employed at Road Station, has been battling the issue of inadequate lighting for 25 years, to no avail.
“I have complained about this for years, and nothing ever gets done. I don’t even know how many times I’ve gone to the electricity department at Plumstead,” she said.
Like many residents in the street, she felt she had no option but to “make a plan” and hook up her home to a nearby electricity box and install her own plugs.
Her main concern, however, was that the poorly lit street gave rise to crime. “There is vandalism going on in the street because it’s dark.
“There is also a lot of muggings, and fighting happening.”
Ms Saunders conceded that she no longer paid rent to the City, “not since 2000”. “A lot of people have moved into IY over the years, and we see they don’t pay rent so why should we, especially when the services don’t work.
“The City asks us for money every month, but they tell us that we have to fix our own houses. “We are old now, and don’t have money to pay for these things.”
There is currently a lot of construction on Steve Biko Street, with trenches being dug for piping. It also appears as though new street lights are being installed.
However, another long-time resident, Willem Vermeulen, is not convinced the new lights will be effective. “I have been here since 1984, and it has always been a big problem.
“The lights work sometimes, but when they go off it’s always for a long time. But when it’s dark there is so much robbing and fighting going on in the street. I’ve seen youngsters robbing and stabbing people.”
Mr Vermeulen also pointed out a huge pile of rubbish a little way from his front steps.
“That’s been here since before Christmas. It is a health hazard and it stinks.
“The construction is another problem.The water pipes are always being broken, and the water just flows down the road.”
In a statement to the Sentinel, the City said: “The City’s Electricity Department confirms that public lighting in distribution area South has no maintenance backlog of street lights that have been reported as defective. The City’s average response time on street light repairs is currently 48 hours from the time of reporting.
“The City cannot monitor the public lighting network constantly for faults. We rely on residents report faults to the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089, via SMS to 31220 or by sending an email to Power@capetown.gov.za.