Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, accompanied by mayoral committee members, joined City waste removal staff for a clean-up in Philippi on Monday May 15 to show solidarity and thank them for their efforts to carry out basic services.
Mayoral committee member for urban waste management, Grant Twigg, and mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith and community leaders joined the clean-up campaign.
The City and its contractors provide a door-to-door waste collection service in Kosovo informal settlement in the Philippi area, as well as ongoing area cleaning services and shipping containers for waste disposal.
Contractors servicing shipping containers have been prevented from operating in the Kosovo area with demands of protection fees by local extortionists. Vehicles have also been damaged.
In Samora Machel/ Brown’s Farm, a contractor has been unable to service the area for most of April given the extent of safety threats. City staff, accompanied by law enforcement, have been keeping services going in the interim.
Mr Hill- Lewis said he wanted to thank frontline staff most sincerely for their bravery and perseverance in delivering basic services in Kosovo and the wider area of Philippi East.
He said constant threats of violence has led to the need for law enforcement protection just to keep services going for residents.
“We can put these extortionists behind bars with the help of the community.
“I am calling on Philippi East residents, and anyone with information, to come forward so that we can arrest those blocking services for residents.
“The City is committed to ensuring basic service delivery and a clean environment for residents, and we will never back down for extortionists.
“We will continue to report these incidents to the police and have further appointed a special investigator within the City’s Safety and Security Directorate who will pursue cases where information may lead to arrests and conviction,” said Mr Hill-Lewis.
Ward councillor, Lungisa Somdaka said as much as they appreciate the visit of the mayor and other mayoral committee members, they are not bringing a permanent solution.
He said they come and go and things remain the same and as leaders and residents in that area they want permanent solutions. In response to widespread threats to staff and facilities, Mr Smith said the City will soon launch a Facility Protection Unit, which will also provide escorts for staff where needed.
However, he said they also need meaningful arrests and prosecutions, and he renewed his call to SAPS to formally constitute the kidnapping and extortion task team that the City has been calling for.
They call on the public to make use of the toll-free tip-off line and claim rewards of up to R5 000 for information leading to arrests of anyone targeting City staff with extortion and violence across the metro.
Mr Twigg said the waste management service has been severely disrupted in Philippi East in recent weeks, with local extortionists demanding payment amid violent threats to staff and contractors.
‘“We have been able to resume services thanks to law enforcement escorts helping to protect our staff going about their area cleaning business.
“However, it is not sustainable for law enforcement to provide these protection services in hotspots across the City indefinitely. The public and SAPS must work with us to arrest extortionists and ensure consequences for this heinous criminality that disrupts basic service delivery for the poorest residents,” he said.