The Emmarentia Post, No 4, November 2022
The Official Publication of the Emmarentia Residents’ Association
Meet our new ERA Exco team
19 November 10am – 1pm, outside Checkers
We are delighted to welcome new members to our Emmarentia Residents Association Exco team. Ayanda Mjekula has once again been elected chairperson.
Come and meet us outside Checkers. Find out who we are and what we are trying to do. Let us know what you think we should be doing. Give us ideas on how we can do this. There are not many of us — we’d really like you to join us and lend a hand.
Our new ERA Exco team
|Kerensa Millard||Legal advice|
|Bienfait Bula and Gemey Abrahams||Town planning, heritage, building support|
|Shameme Manjoo, Zaahid Kajee, Matt Evans||Support to all portfolios|
We also have a history sub-committee which is gathering more information about the suburb and an environmental sub-committee that is mostly concerned with the park.
A big, big thank you
ERA is so grateful to our ward councillor and our ward committee for keeping us informed, enforcing bylaws and helping us out during these challenging times of failing electricity, water, waste collection and and and. Keep it up. Our lives would be so much more difficult without you.
Water, water in the Vaal, but not a drop to drink!
We thought things couldn’t get worse when our days were darkened by Stage 6 load-shedding. But they did… We opened our taps and nothing came out.
Once again, the community showed their generosity. The mosque offered everyone access to their filtered borehole water as did numerous other residents. Many residents and business owners also ferried water to the Eventide Home. A big thanks to all those that assisted.
And Brian Jossell, the landlord of many of the properties around the Greenhill shops precinct, has also offered his filtered borehole water in one of the blocks of flats on Komatie, when the next time comes, which it almost certainly will. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
We were all puzzled. While other parts of the country have had their day-zeros because of devastating droughts, our major source, the Vaal Dam, was 92% full.
Rand Water laid the blame at the door of Joburg residents who “use too much water – average of 300 litres per person per day is consumed as against the global average of 173 per day per person.”
Mike Muller, ex Dept Water Affairs Director General, told SAFM listeners on 18 October a different story. “40 per cent of water is lost (in Johannesburg); about 25 per cent from water leaks, 15 per cent is not being billed.”
Once this is factored into the equation, he said, “Joburg residents’ average consumption comes right down to 180 litres per day per person” almost the same as the global average.
Failure of electricity infrastructure and vandalism
Joburg Water general manager of operations, Etienne Hugo, told a public water crisis meeting at Marks Park on 26 October that the problems were because of the failure of “electricity infrastructure and vandalism” which had led to “continuous power interruptions that caused the Commando system to collapse. This affected Rand Water and Joburg Water” and the system wasn’t able to recover.
He also revealed that the water and sewerage infrastructure backlog currently stood at R2.9bn. Just recently the current DA administration announced that R900m will be spent in this financial year to begin to address the backlog.
The bigger picture
Meanwhile Muller warned that Joburg residents are at “the limit of what can reliably be supplied to the region until Lesotho phase 2 is providing water.” Phase 2 could take five more years to complete.
He said that over the next 5 years “we will all have to get used to having the same amount of water even though the population will continue growing,” – i.e. there will be less for each of us.
The one hope he said was that if water losses can be reduced to 25 per cent, “we might just make it.”
Muller also warned of complacency around boreholes. “For the moment there is water but as everyone uses it, it will run out, it is not a long term reliable back up and I get worried by people who seem to think it is… we must get people to use water more efficiently.”
Keep asking questions
The final message comes from Dr Ferrial Adam, environmental activist, manager at WaterCan, who urged residents at a water crisis public meeting at Marks Park on 26 October to “keep asking questions of authorities.”
“The issue is not going away. We need to watch the budget. We are not spending enough on infrastructure… Democracy doesn’t end when we’ve voted. We must find ways of making sure that there is active citizenry.”
Let’s all keep asking questions…
What can we all do to use water more efficiently:
- Report any water or sewerage leak email@example.com
- Plant water-wise gardens and pavements
- Stop washing our drive-ways
- Re-use grey water where we can
- Harvest our rainwater and use it to water our gardens/fill up our swimming pools
- We welcome residents to share good practice and to add to this list. Water is a scarce resource.
Please share on firstname.lastname@example.org or on your WhatsApp groups. Those dry years are coming again soon!
Unpacking the homelessness problem
“If you came here expecting a quick fix, there isn’t one.” These were the words of Parkview CPF Chair, Geraldine Connell, who chaired the public meeting on the problem of homelessness on September 21 at Marks Park.
She said that it was estimated that about 400 people live in public open spaces in the Parkview precinct – in Zoo Lake, Delta Park, Keith Fleming Park, along the rivers and in the old Parkhurst Bowling Club.
Even though they are occupying these spaces illegally, if entities that own these public spaces want to evict those living there, they must follow the law. However, even if these processes are followed and occupiers are removed, often they “return several days later.”
She acknowledged that residents were concerned about “the degradation of the green belt running through Joburg” and the impact that these informal settlements was having on their properties.
Equally concerning though was that some were forced into homelessness because they are “either not paid enough for their labours or… do not have any way of earning a living.” SA’s constitution “confers many rights on all our people: right to dignity, adequate housing and food, which the State is tasked with meeting” so a “just and compassionate solution was needed.”
The Constitution also guarantees everyone’s rights to just administrative action and so residents’ rights need to be weighed against the rights of the displaced people.
Homeless and crime
SAPS Parkview Station Commander, Colonel Govender, admitted that displaced people in the precinct contribute to contact crimes: theft in general, especially of wall lights and dustbins, common assault, gender-based violence (GBV) and attempted murder. However, most often these violent crimes were between the displaced people themselves and didn’t involve residents in the neighbouring suburbs.
A major concern was the old Parkhurst bowling club where some have occupied the building while others have built illegal structures on the land owned by the Johannesburg Property Company. Liquor is sold there illegally and consumption of alcohol and drugs is prevalent. Suspects are untraceable since they have no fixed address.
Thabo Thipe, from the City’s Department of Community Safety warned that we need “to join hands” to tackle the problem of the homeless, otherwise our areas will become like Rhodes Park and Bez Valley Park which “used to be beautiful”.
He also criticised some government departments that don’t always attend joint activities like cleaning the spruit. “You’ll see JMPD and SAPS but you also need Home Affairs there.” Ward 88 Residents Association member, Mike Styer, echoed Thipe’s concern.
Views of the community
Some attendees said that homeless people are the cause of crime or were working hand in hand with crime syndicates. Many expressed concern over the Wastepreneurs project which they said had encouraged the mushrooming of the homeless settlement on the Parkhurst bowling club and that this was “attracting criminal elements.”
Others said that most homeless people are not criminals, “they just want a job and want to do something useful.” They urged residents to support initiatives that help the homeless sort out their CVs, get work-ready etc. so that they can be kept “away from criminalisation”.
They stressed that one of the worst things that can happen to homeless people is for them to be raided by authorities and their possessions confiscated or burnt. “Then they are left without IDs and other personal effects” and this can further delay them getting back on their feet.
The City needed to assist by providing land and buildings, much more transitional housing and increase its capacity to address mental illness which was prevalent amongst the homeless.
Connell said that several NPOs operating in the Parkview precinct have been invited to try and come up with action plans to deal with the problem. She undertook to organise a follow up public meeting soon.
Did you know that Emmarentia, named after the wife of Louw Geldenhuys, comprises two townships – Emmarentia and Emmarentia Extension 1? Buffalo Road is the divide between the two townships.
Emmarentia was proclaimed a township on 24 April 1937 (Proclamation 63, Gov Gazette 1458). It was surveyed by the famous land surveyor HJEW Halberstadt in 1936 after the death of Louw Geldenhuys in 1929. He did not want his land developed while he was alive.
Much open space was retained around Emmarentia because it was donated by Louw Geldenhuys and his family. Today it forms part of the Melville Koppies, Marks Park, Emmarentia Dam/Botanical Gardens and the West Park Cemetery and provides Emmarentia with a park-like setting and important public land.
Later in 1937, the City Council considered the application for Emmarentia Ext 1 and it was proclaimed in 1938.
Second World War
The Second World War slowed the development of the suburb, but several homes were built during the war. Apart from Louw Geldenhuys’s original farmhouse at 44 Greenhill Road built in the 1880s, we have some homes in Emmarentia dating back to 1937, while others were built towards the end of the war. In Emmarentia Ext 1, most homes were built from the 1950s.
The characteristic yellow face-brick cottages in Emmarentia are mostly in the mid-century modern architectural style but there are also some noteworthy homes designed by well-known architects, such as Moerdyk, Cowan, Ellis, Abramowitch, Percik, van Achterberg and Watermeyer. Many of them were pioneers of the modernist style in South Africa.
ERA has begun to build up information on our suburb’s architectural history, the architects and residents who first built homes in our area. ERA does investigations when residents apply to do renovations because it is required to provide a letter to the Provincial Heritage Authority of Gauteng (PHRAG) if a house is over 60 years’ old or if there will be demolition required.
Be mindful of our heritage
We urge residents to be mindful of our heritage when renovating. Always try to retain original elements of the house and please call ERA for advice before finalizing building plans.
Please share any early history of your family in Emmarentia, photos and names of people we can interview, to help us add to this history. We also welcome any interested residents who may want to help with this aspect.
Send us an email at email@example.com Call ERA’s expert Gemey Abrahams, for planning, heritage or building plans advice: 082 459 5266
- Outdoor Advertising
The CoJ recently held a public meeting at Marks Park to consult with residents on updating its Outdoor Advertising Bylaw. See the draft here:
- ERA attends City’s CBP session
ERA members worked with other Ward 88 residents under the guidance of City representatives on 29 October to agree that the City must prioritise water pipes and roads in the Ward and fence Waterfall Recreation Centre.
- Building or garden rubble
Dumping building or garden rubble on your sidewalk is NOT permitted because the sidewalk is owned by Johannesburg Roads Agency. Only building materials can be stored on your sidewalk if you obtain a Wayleave Permit from the City first.
- Building plans and heritage
Remember, building renovations that require a plan to be submitted must be signed off by ERA who acts on behalf of the Lourens Geldenhuys Family.
Moreover most properties in Emmarentia are over 60 years’ old and are subject to the National Heritage Resources Act which requires permission when you want to alter the house or demolish it.
See here for more info
- Be on the lookout for large (A3 size) white notices on properties that indicate a planning application. This will give details of how you can comment or object to any application. Please take a photo and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City policies and the Nodal Review Policy are promoting greater densification and mixed use in the suburbs and have done away with Emmarentia’s Precinct Plan that previously gave us assurance and confidence on the future of our area.
ERA believes that Emmarentia and neighbouring suburbs urgently need local Precinct Plans so that development and land use changes can be directed to suitable parts of the suburb. We are collaborating with other RAs, councillors and the City on this matter.
New rules for Mosque traffic flow on Friday lunchtime
To accommodate worshippers who attend the mosque on Fridays at lunch-time, a new arrangement has been agreed with the mosque, JRA, the Councillor and directly affected residents. Komatie between Muirfield and Ingalele will be a one-way going south while Marico between Muirfield and Ingalele will be a one-way going north.
Donate cellphones to Parkview CPF
Parkview CPF is in urgent need of cellphones valued at almost R3000 to enable volunteer patrollers to do their work more efficiently. If you can help, e-mail email@example.com
Support the new car guards at Greenhill shops
Greenhill Road shopowners are piloting a new car guard initiative to bring safety to residents and customers, especially over the upcoming festive season.
Park Dynamics Safety (PDS) will be supervising the new venture with each shopowner contributing financially to the project. PDS runs a similar successful business in Fordsburg with the support of SAPS.
Each guard is given training, uniforms (orange and yellow jackets), radios, communication with zone managers and back up from SAPS if necessary.
A basic payment is made to the car guards, “car guards will rely on the public for the bulk of their income,” says ERA Exco member, Shameme Manjoo, who attended the briefing on the new initiative. Please give generously to support them and make the project sustainable.
Botanical garden briefs
· Security in the park
Opening times of the Botanic Gardens and the dog-walking section remain at 6am – 6pm. If you are locked inside, exit through Olifants Road entrance.
· There is a guard with a dog at the top end of the park at Judith; at Olifants Rd entrance and at rose garden entrance
· 2 guards patrol on the top path adjacent to Marks Park
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t see the guards.
· Toilets at Botanical Gardens
ERA followed up with the manager, Sandra Viljoen, after receiving complaints about the state of the toilets. They promised to attend to it. Please continue reporting any problems to ERA – email@example.com
· Park Rangers to patrol the park
In a pilot project, Park Rangers (dressed in dark khaki with the City Parks emblem embroidered on their uniforms) will be clamping down on illegal events and enforcing bylaws in the park like:
– Dog-owners to pick up after their dog
– Dogs must be on leads inside the park
– Dogs NOT allowed in rose garden and other designated areas, even if they are on leads
· Restaurant at Botanical Gardens
This is still being renovated. We will keep you posted of opportunities to tender for the lease of the property.
Updates from last newsletter
· Back to square one for Parkhurst Bowling Club
The proposal to convert the area into a soccer academy reported on in the last newsletter is off the table. The owner, Johannesburg Property Company, issued another Request for Proposals (RFP) for “the development and long-term lease” of the area. (RFP now closed.)
We’re still waiting for your views, both negative and positive, on events in our suburb. Those events are coming back next year and we need to know your views so we can share them with the relevant authorities and the councillor. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
see here for the previous newsletter, No 3 of August 2022.