The Little Flowers crèche in Jim se Bos informal settlement in Philippi is opposite an overflowing rubbish container supplied by the City of Cape Town. The local councillor says the container, currently on the road reserve, can’t be moved onto nearby private land because the owner has not given permission. But the owner of the land says no one has ever asked him.
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Little Flowers Educare, one of only two crèches for toddlers and babies in the settlement, is on a private farm close to the Philippi Horticultural Area.
Rats, mice, and mosquitoes, a foul smell, and puddles of dirty water are not a good environment for the 40 young children she cares for, says crèche owner Patricia Masizana.
She has asked the ward councillor to move the rubbish container.
When GroundUp visited we had to tiptoe from her crèche through the brown, smelly puddles to the container. A rat ran past. “There’s many of them here,” Masizana said. “I had to buy cement to make a seal around the bottom of the crèche so the rats don’t get inside.”
Rubbish is collected three times a week by the City, she says, but it still accumulates.
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Ward Councillor Elton Jansen said, “The container is on the road reserve because Jim se Bos is on private land. We do not have permission from the owner to place a waste container on Jim se Bos.”
But the owner of the land, 72-year-old Abdulla Parker, said he had never been approached for permission. Parker said he bought the land about 30 years ago. “I had plans for it. I wanted to retire and have some livestock there, some fruit and veggies.”
But, he said, people evicted from City-owned land nearby had moved onto his land and the settlement had grown. Parker said he had tried to get the City to buy the land from him, to house the people living there, but without success. He had even suggested the City swap the land for another piece of land of the same value.
Asked if he had tried to get the families living there evicted, he said: “No, no, no, no. I would never do that. Where are they supposed to go if I evict them?”
He said he had never been contacted about moving the rubbish container onto his land.
“Mr Jansen for the past few years has been a councillor there and every time he needed permission for something to be done on that property he knew exactly who to contact, and that was me. He’s got my number, my email address, everything.”
Jansen confirmed that he had not asked Parker for permission to move the container.
According to the City’s records, Jim se Bos informal settlement contained 482 homes last year. The City’s Acting Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation Siseko Mbandezi said there were 53 blue chemical toilets, 114 portable toilets and 53 taps.
Asked about Parker’s request for the City to purchase the land from him, Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, said “The City has no immediate plans to acquire the land”.
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Words and Picture: Mary-Anne Gontsan/ GroundUp