I usually start my newsletter with excitement, but this month it is terrible for me to begin with the crimes that once again shook our community. These activities are a spill-over effect that is part of a much larger problem tormenting our entire province, as well as the country. The reality of violent crime hits us hard because two people were killed in a popular night club in the heart of town, another young man died in a shooting in Ida’s Valley and a farmer was brutally murdered on his farm. My condolences and prayers go out to all the families of the victims. I also want to add my voice to the calls of Premier Zille, the Provincial Minister for Community Safety, Dan Plato, and the rest of the Provincial Government leadership, to ask that more serious action is taken by National Government to prevent violent crime.
In our own community, Minister Dan Plato, upon our request, recently met with concerned residents from Ward 16 in Cloetesville to discuss safety challenges residents experience. More follow-up meetings have been scheduled and the focus will fall on gangsterism.
International Risk Reduction Day Annually we celebrate International Risk Reduction Day on 13 October. It is a day that focuses on reducing and managing the impact of disasters on our society. The focus falls especially on natural disasters and fires that affect people’s lives. The theme for this year was ‘Safe Homes’. It was my great privilege to be the key note speaker in Klapmuts at the annual commemoration of this day.
We can truly be grateful for the incredible work that is done daily by our Disaster Management Section, Fire Department and other safety services. It is a section in the municipality that does exceptional work and save many lives. As part of disaster and risk management, 500 smoke alarms were installed in residences in Klapmuts. The installation specifically targeted backyard residents and informal structures in the area. The alarms were made available to us by the Provincial Government, via a donation by SANTAM. The purpose of these alarms is to warn residents in time of a possible fire. It helps residents to then act quickly and vacate residences and in that way prevent loss of life and even limit property loss.
The Klapmuts area was identified by a research group from the University of Stellenbosch as a vulnerable area. We are planning to roll this project out in other wards as well with the cooperation of councillors and possibly donations by other private institutions. I want to thank SANTAM for the donation and I want to ask anyone that is willing to contribute to please help. Every alarm costs approximately R100 and you can sponsor as many as you like. Please contact my office if you can help (firstname.lastname@example.org).
People with Disabilities
November is awareness month for people with disabilities. The campaign reaches a climax on 3 December when we commemorate International Day for People with Disabilities with the international community. This campaign is extremely important for us. As a municipality, we want to help to address the needs of people with disabilities and specially to help address the myths and incorrect perceptions that exist about people with disabilities. The abilities of the people with disabilities are often underestimated and that is why they are often not given the opportunity to be part of the mainstream society. We can however learn a lot from people with disabilities about how to be adaptable and overcome challenges. We must not ignore or stereotype them just because their approach to life is different and unique.
Stellenbosch Municipality will also work with Stellenbosch Disability Network during November. We are planning a walking event on the 25th of November and it will also serve as the launch for our 16 Days of Activism for No-Violence against Women and Children. People with disabilities are unfortunately one of the most vulnerable groups in our communities, along with women and children, and we must not stop talking about it. As a female mayor, these campaigns are very close to my heart. I want to encourage all residents who find themselves in a dangerous or abusive situation to contact me so that we can try to help. It can never be acceptable to abuse people. Abuse is also not limited to physical abuse but also to emotional abuse.
Please talk about this. Every voice that is heard, gives someone else the courage to walk away from abuse.
As part of the recently concluded Transport Month, we decided to partly close Andringa Street for motorised transport for a week and only make it accessible for pedestrians, cyclist and other forms of non-motorised transport. The result was very pleasing and I received so many photos from residents and visitors who enjoyed the additional space and calm for a leisurely stroll. My team and I took a stroll as well and it was wonderful to see our beautiful town without fear of cars that might injure you.
We are working continuously to find solutions to the challenges surrounding our traffic and parking problems in our towns. We are going to investigate on how and if it is possible to implement motor free zones in areas that are popular with visitors and pedestrians. Hopefully we can come up with a plan that reduces traffic congestion as well as promote alternative transport. You are welcome to send me your suggestions in this regard!
The continuing drought remains a crisis. I want to remind you that Level 5 water restrictions remain in place and it will remain in place for some time. Our water consumption usually increases during the summer that has now arrived. I cannot emphasise it enough that our water is running out and rather quickly as well. Please also inform your visitors so that they can be aware of how scarce and valuable water is in the Western Cape. Every litre counts. If you have a water leak or a burst pipe, please contact our Infrastructure Department because you can follow a process to reduce the unnecessary high tariffs you must pay for wasting water.
Good Service Delivery
The end of the year is now truly here and I am looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet in our area when everyone leaves on holiday in due course. This does not mean however that activity in my office slows down at all. We continue full steam ahead to plan and deliver good services to you. The Council recently approved the new organogram and staff structure and that will enable us to appoint critical skills in the areas where it is needed.
I often receive enquiries about electricity usage and the lack of municipal systems in informal areas. It is wonderful for me to be able to share with you that we have started with the electrification of the Eknanini neighbourhood and that we are systematically, and as funding allows us, busy with a process to provide the entire area with legal power connections. The other areas have no need for jealousy; we are working on a schedule that will help everyone. We are also working on a by-law that will make it possible to provide backyard residents as well. It is a great need for people living in backyards because they are dependent on electricity provided by the main residence and we listened to the plea from our communities.