The Emmarentia Post, No 3, September 2021
The Official Publication of the Emmarentia Residents’ Association
The Covid-19 epidemic has shaken the foundations of our lives. Many of us have lost loved ones, many of our businesses have suffered as we are buffeted by the pandemic. Students and schoolkids have had to get used to bouts of virtual teaching/tutoring. Many of us with jobs have delighted in the opportunity to work from home but have missed the camaraderie of the office. ‘Social distancing’ has become a normal word for all ages, mask-wearing and spraying of hands is second nature to young and old.
In mid-July, the unrest that hit parts of Gauteng and KZN further unsettled us. It has caused us all to take stock of our lives, how we live and how our lives affect others. Latest unemployment figures show that unemployment is at its highest level ever and with few prospects of many youngsters ever finding jobs. The economy is buckling under pressure.
In these unpredictable times, we can do a number of things to root ourselves and steady the uncertainties in our lives:
* Get vaccinated – Parkhurst clinic provides free Covid testing and vaccinations; there are numerous private vaccination sites close by like Milpark, Dischem Victory Park, Mays Chemist, the drive through at the Houghton Masjid.
* Join the Emmarentia Residents Assocation (ERA) https://era.org.za/join-era/ – feel part of a wider community
* Sign up for our e-newsletter https://era.org.za/subscribe/ to keep abreast of what’s happening
* If you’re worried about the crumbling infrastructure in our suburb, join the ERA infrastructure WhatsApp group set up by ERA where you can raise your concerns: whatsapp Nina Zylstra 083 564 4435 to request to join.
* Join a WhatsApp group in Emmarentia – https://era.org.za/join-a-whatsapp-group-in-your-street/ – they are founts of knowledge on: strange noises at any hour of the day or night; the latest in the antics of criminals and how to secure yourselves; first-hand references for plumbers, tilers, painters, electricians; Covid testing and vaccination sites and everything in between.
* Be aware of anything suspicious and phone it in (see CRIME section below)
TRIBUNAL – One last session?
We had hoped that the August Tribunal hearing on the mixed-use development on the properties on the land bounded by Gleneagles, Barry Hertzog and Linden Roads would be the final hearing. However it was not to be. The half a day allocated proved to be too little.
We hope that the continuation date of 20 September will hear the final arguments from both sides so that the City can then make a decision.
Every extra day of hearings means extra charges for ERA and GRA to make our voices heard. We once again appeal to Emmarentia residents to either donate to ERA for the costs of the Tribunal, or, if you are not already an ERA member, to join us.
Special discounts available for a 2-year membership: R500 for 2021/22 and 2022/23. Rates for pensioners (R200 per annum) and businesses (R950 per annum) remain unchanged.
Emmarentia Residents Association, Nedbank; A/c: 1975051173; Branch Code: 198765. E-mail POP to:
(Reference: surname and telephone number) together with your completed membership form. Download a membership form here:
(If you are donating for the Tribunal costs, please change your reference to Tribunal)
[Erratum – We erroneously posted on our website https://era.org.za/2021/08/17/continuation-of-tribunal-on-mixed-use-development-25-august-2021/ that there had been over 4000 objections to the mixed use development. This should have said 2479 objections. (We have corrected the website story)]
CRIME – Call it in!
The brazen assassination of whistle-blower Babita Deokaranin broad daylight just after she’d dropped off her teenage daughter has horrified us all. Deokaran had reported fraudulent Covid-19 contracts in the Gauteng health department where she was the acting chief financial officer.
Just four days later police arrested seven suspects who have now appeared in court. The police couldn’t have done it without her proactive neighbours. One neighbour reported they had seen the same BMW taking photos of Deokaran’s house on three separate occasions before she was killed. The neighbour took photos of the suspicious vehicle. This ‘vital piece of information enabled investigators to trace the vehicle to a former SANDF member residing in the Pretoria area’, reported the Daily Maverick on August 31.
We can do the same in our neighbourhood. Call in any suspicious activity: CAP 082 366 1852 (or your security company); SAPS PARKVIEW – 071 675 6062/ 071 675 6063.
- Uptick of some crimes:
Watch out for:
- theft of gate motors
- an automatic gate was lifted and the group of men who’d arrived in a charcoal blue hatchback attempted to break-into a house,
- a security gate was broken with a pick and residents were held up at gunpoint; thieves demanded jewellery and cash.
- muggings of cyclists and walkers in green spaces continue with the major hot spot being the southwestern corner of the Botanic Gardens at the corner of Judith and Beyers Naude. Most common time is first thing in the morning after the park is open and late afternoon when the park is about to close. And more worrying, more of these attacks are being carried out by men armed with knives and guns.
On September 8, Geraldine Connell chairperson of the Parkview CPF met again with Botanic Gardens to try and plan what to do after the most recent attack. The difficulty is that the shift changes happen at 6am, exactly when the attacks happen. Mabotwane will try and place a vehicle there overnight and the shift change will take place there at a guard hut.
Geraldine will also discuss the situation with SAPS to find out when their members can patrol and organise other interventions.
If you’re a walker, leave all valuables at home, be vigilant, don’t walk alone and remember the park is open 6am – 6pm.
Theft of infrastructure continues to plague us with copper cables stolen from the Telkom box corner Barry Hertzog/The Braids which affected 400 Telkom telephone lines and internet across Emmarentia and Greenside. On 7 September, Open Serve technicians who have been there almost every day trying to restore lines since August 24, reported that of the 156 telephone lines that were down, 56 were still to be reconnected.
The Botanic Gardens also suffered when cables from the sub-station that supplies the park were stolen, the pump house that operates the rose garden fountain was vandalized and all the cables and switches stolen.
- Parkview CPF beefs up its patrollers
The July unrest that hit KZN and Gauteng in July resulted in more Emmarentia residents volunteering to join the Parkview CPF. However the vetting process can take long so when there were rumours of further unrest on 23 August 2021, ‘the CPF decided to be proactive to speed up the vetting,’ says CPF chairperson, Geraldine Connell.
A communication channel was opened with representatives of businesses in each suburb of the precinct so that a speedy message could be sent to all in case businesses needed to take swift action. A fast-tracked criminal check was done on the ID numbers of those citizens who had registered their interest in becoming patrollers, in the event that they needed to be deployed urgently. Another communication channel was set up using the Telegram app for anyone who wanted to be notified of unrest via the CPF from SAPS. Fortunately there was no need to take any action.
Because there were many more volunteers who signed up to join the patrollers, two additional days have been booked with SAPS for taking fingerprints: Saturday 4th and 11th September. After the fingerprints have been sent to the Local Crime Record Centre, they will be sent to Provincial SAPS for final clearance. After this, the CPF will be scheduling patrols of the area which should help SAPS keep crime down by having additional eyes and ears on the ground.
If you would like to find out more, contact Geraldine Connell email@example.com
- Do you live near a vacant property?
CAP is asking for help to map all vacant properties and building sites in the suburb. According to CAP, ‘Criminals use vacant properties within our suburbs to their advantage, which means that sometimes they are hiding in plain sight.’
Please help by letting CAP know who these properties belong to and where they are. CAP needs consent to search these sites. If they know who the owner is they can verify with them who should be found in these spaces. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Failing service delivery
A friend who lives in Westdene said the other day: ‘If we have a day when we have water, electricity and wi-fi, it’s time to celebrate.’ Sadly Emmarentia is becoming this way too.
New mayor Jolidee Matongo has promised “accelerated service delivery”. “Street lights must work, burst sewers fixed and overgrown grass cut. As politicians, ours is to have oversight over things we said must be done,” the mayor has told his team.
He also said, “I don’t want to hear depot people saying they don’t have material. Budget has been allocated. It must be spent. Materials must be bought and made available at the stores.”
He’s saying what we want to hear – it’s time to test if his promises are real.
The ward committee is requesting residents who have previously sent in requests for service to Joburg Water, JRA, City Power or tree trimming but which have never been attended to, to please send details to email@example.com OR add them to this google sheet: https://forms.gle/9pU4SkityVyNEL9U7
Details should include:
- a very brief description of the issue
- the complaint reference number
- the location address/location
- and the date of the complaint
The ward committee will then ensure that the relevant parties receive the complaint and cannot claim ignorance of the issue (and be reminded of their promise).
And keep reporting – no-one knows there is a problem unless you report it.
Check here: https://era.org.za/leaking-tap-loud-neighbours-sewerage-leaking-find-all-those-important-numbers-here/ to get the contacts for ‘Who to phone for pesky problems’ – from leaking water pipes, to illegal dumping, builders making noise on Sundays, etc. etc.
City News – Briefs
- Portal to assist businesses affected by looting and vandalism
The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) portal to assist businesses that were affected by the looting and vandalism is now operational. Businesses needs to submit their request for funding. It can be accessed on smme.gep.co.za
- City extends debt rehabilitation programme to 31 December 2021
- Local government elections – Ward 88 councillor
Councillor Hensman has already indicated that he will not stand again as our councillor. Candidate lists will be made public in the next two weeks.
The Constitutional Court ruled that local government elections must take place between October 27 and November 1 2021. Election date has now been set for 1 November 2021. If you’re a first time voter or have moved house since you last voted, you can register at your nearest voting station on registration date or online on https://registertovote.elections.org.za/Welcome
Voting usually takes place at Emmarentia Primary School. Make sure you’re there to make your mark.
Court orders evicting parties to allow homeless back into Alberts Farm
A recent court judgment over the eviction of four homeless people from Alberts Farm conservancy who have for years called it their home, has found in favour of the four.
The Ward 88 Committee is warning that this judgment has ‘far broader ramifications for potentially hundreds of people who sleep in parks and open spaces in Johannesburg because they are homeless or because it places them closer to economic opportunity as reclaimers, car guards or from piece jobs.’
The court declared the eviction ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and ordered the evicting parties to ‘return the Applicants’ possessions, including makeshift tents and building materials, wood, clothing, shoes, food, mobile phones, and waste for recycling, and any other items which were removed, as soon as possible’.
Should they be unable to return these possessions, the court ordered that the respondents — among them the City of Johannesburg Municipality, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, Chief of Police of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police, Pikitup, SCP Security and Friends of Alberts Farm Conservancy — are to “provide building materials, and blankets, bedding, and mattresses… as soon as possible, but by no later than Saturday, 21 August 2021” which would enable the construction of “at least equivalent temporary habitable dwellings to those that were destroyed and/or removed at the site in the Alberts Farm Conservancy at which their previous shelters were demolished”.
Moreover, the court ordered that the homeless people be allowed “full and unimpeded access to their temporary habitable dwellings and possessions, with immediate effect, by granting 24-hour access to, at least, one of the six gates of the Alberts Farm Conservancy, which gate or gates should be the closest gate or gates to their temporary habitable dwellings.”
The court also directed the parties “to meaningfully engage with each other to ensure that an equitable relationship and dignified relationship can be developed between the parties”.
If you are concerned by this judgment and the implications that it has on green spaces, please log a complaint or get hold of one of these people, or send to all of them.
Bishop Ngobeli – firstname.lastname@example.org – Responsible for Public Open Space and protected areas reporting to Marks Sethaelo.
Matome Baholo – email@example.com – Head of Park Wardens, reporting to David Maluleke.
David Maluleke – firstname.lastname@example.org – Head of department reporting to Marks Sethaelo.
Marks Sethaelo – email@example.com – Chief Operations Officer reporting to Bryne Maduka.
Bryne Maduka – firstname.lastname@example.org – Managing Director Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo
MMC Margaret Arnolds – MargaretA@joburg.org.za
Mayor Jolidee Matongo – JolideeM@joburg.org.za
Deon Mynhardt – DeonM@joburg.org.za – Citizen Relations Officer
Mohau Ntheli – MohauN@joburg.org.za – Regional Director
Read the full Alberts Farm judgment here
Victory Road bowling club site becoming another Alberts Farm?
Meanwhile on the eastern side of Emmarentia, residents of Greenside and Parkhurst are growing increasingly alarmed at the inaction of the City on the number of homeless people that have moved into the derelict Victory Road bowling club and adjacent field.
The Greenside Residents Association has asked JMPD and environmental health to investigate the regular burning of plastic/ rubber/ noxious fumes coming from both the old bowling club and Wastepreneurs (whose ongoing illegal presence at Pirates creates ongoing problems).
The field adjacent to the bowling club has vagrants building shacks on it; as soon as these are removed new ones pop up, this has been a cycle for years. The concern of residents of the area is that this will snowball into the development of a full-on settlement of vagrants in the area.
The properties are owned by the Johannesburg Property Company i.e. it is municipal land. There is a tender out for the bowling club but none has been awarded. Warning notices were served on the occupants in April however, no eviction happened since it appears that JPC failed to appoint approved legal counsel so there could be no issuing of the eviction notices or court orders.
According to councillor for the area, Tim Truluck, permission has been granted for City Parks to take over the old football field as a solarisation site for removed shothole borer infected trees. However, no date has been set down for this to happen. They will then remove the vagrants on that section.
In the meantime, Truluck suggests that residents keep logging complaints with JMPD on 0113755911 – get a ref # – so that there is a record of your complaint. Do this at least once a week. They will organise an occasional raid with SAPS. And if nothing is done or has been done, e-mail your reference to email@example.com with all the details of the service failure.
And now for some good news!
- Saving a cat and its kittens
When a cat got stranded in a grid after it had climbed in there to have kittens, Greenside community patroller Bianca and SCP managed to remove the grid and save the cat and kittens.
- Listen out for the ‘rain bird’
If you’re lucky you might get the rain bird or the Burchell’s Coucal visiting your garden. Normally it sticks to the wooded sections of the park and the river course but at this time of year, it’s often seen in people’s gardens, advertising itself with its distinctive bubbling call. See it and listen out for its call here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D22EwszPjE
Let’s Work’s plans for September 2021
- Let’s Braai – help us make Heritage Day about community
Much of the work being done by Let’s Work might fly under the radar. With Heritage Day just around the corner, however, the team is heading out in full force to celebrate “National Braai Day” along with some of the less fortunate, as well as those still out patrolling our suburbs despite it being a public holiday.
Some of Let’s Work’s recent – and ongoing – initiatives include helping the homeless get back on their feet through paid work in and around the Parks area, where some can now even afford a roof over their heads.
Over the past few months, “My Covid Meals” facilitated the delivery of meals to residents who have been more severely affected by the virus and, thus, unable to cook for themselves. Daily meals are being sent out a week in advance. While things are slowing down on this front, Let’s Work’s Felicity Lawlor says the initiative is still very much available to those in need.
- Heritage Day: In and around Emmarentia
In previous years for Heritage Day, Let’s Work organised a potjie competition at Gem Homes for Senior Citizens in Roosevelt Park, for example. This year, Lawlor says it’s about bringing the spirit of our cultural heritage to some of our senior citizens and our committed SAPS members.
“We’re currently organising supplies for Heritage Day braais at a number of locations in the Ward 88 area and need the support of the community to make this happen,” she adds.
Some of the braai locations that have been identified so far include the Windsor Homeless Shelter, Montgomery Haven, Eventide Salvation Army and Parkview SAPS.
Let’s Work can only support these community members through contributions from residents. While boerewors is being supplied by Let’s Work, there is still a need for bread-rolls, salads, cooldrinks and charcoal.
Residents can get involved by assisting with cooking. All ingredients will be supplied to those wanting to fire up the braai themselves. Alternatively, bread-rolls, salad and cooldrinks can be dropped off with Felicity. Let’s Work will ensure delivery to the various venues.
Any volunteers able to facilitate a braai for Parkview Police Station to support our dedicated SAPS officers working on the 24th of this month can get in touch with Felicity on the contact details below.
Learners are also encouraged to get in touch if they can assist in any way. These opportunities always contribute towards their needed community hours.
- Drop off toilet rolls at Emmarentia Eventide
Please help Emmarentia Eventide residents by dropping off a few toilet rolls.
PLEASE CONTACT FELICITY TO GET INVOLVED: 082 568 1783; firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate to Let’s Work FNB cheque account, Let’s Work NPO#201-696; A/c 628 0129 9472 Your reference – your suburb (or whichever Let’s Work project you want to donate to)
[Please note: To save money and to be environmentally aware we are not printing this newsletter]