Archive | August 2013

Open Design showcases innovation at City Hall

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A four-second condom applicator and a ritual circumcision device are among product designs on show at the Open Design exhibition currently running at the City Hall.

The exhibition runs through a few rooms of the historic City Hall opposite the Grand Parade in central Cape Town. It is open to the public.

A number of talks and events have already been held since it opened last week. The event runs until August 31.

A tribute poster exhibition for Nelson Mandela is included at the Open Design exhibition. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

A tribute poster exhibition for Nelson Mandela is included at the Open Design exhibition. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Also on show is a poster exhibition in tribute of former president Nelson Mandela. The event also hosts a seminar on Thursday called Designing Democracy, which aims to “speak to how design can take a lead in social development”.

Designing South Africa is hosting the seminar and its founder Zahira Asmal said they want to “explore ways that good design may better serve our society to afford dignity to our people”.

“In order for a nation to be a democracy, all citizens should have an equal opportunity to participate in its development and partake of its services, through political, social, cultural and economic engagement,” said Asmal.

Asmal said she found the not-for-profit organisation ahead of the 2010 World Cup to “facilitate a design-led dialogue around significant urban projects”.

A host of lunch time talks are planned at Open Design this week. Topics include how to build your design business and integrating sustainability into design.

The full programme which lists the week’s talks and other creative events is available on the website http://www.opendesignct.com

District Six trust slams politicians

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The trust set up to rebuild District Six yesterday said it was “cautiously optimistic” about this weekend’s housing handover and called local political leaders “opportunists”.

District Six is an area in Cape Town where locals were forcibly removed from during apartheid.

The country’s democratic government has undertaken land restitution and this weekend handed 70 houses back to those who were forcibly removed from District Six.

District Six residents return to their homes. Pic by Tasneem Adams

District Six residents return to their homes. Pic by Tasneem Adams

Rural development and land reform minister Gugile Nkwinti handed over keys to the new homeowners on Saturday. Premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille were also at the event.

It marked phase two of the intergovernmental District Six restitution process.

Anwah Nagia, chairperson of the District Six Redevelopment and Beneficiary Trust (D6), said while their celebrations were marred by politics though.

“It’s been a victory over the apartheid regime and the 1913 Land Act but the trust is concerned. We don’t like political opportunism,” said Nagia.
“Zille has always been critical of this process for many years and also of the trust. We are cautious of the role of the city and province because they were lethargic. We know this is an election year as well and these are opportunists.”

He added: “The people that should get the praise is the trust. I have campaigned all of my life for this issue. We need partners like the city but I feel there was political masquerading in the process. The trust was reluctant to share the platform (on Saturday) with the city and provincial government.”

Nagia was among the trust’s founders in 1994. He said the city administration was also stalling the land restitution process as it had to hand over 42 hectares of land to the trust so that it could build houses for other claimants.

“We have asked that 42 hectares be returned to all families and all those who have not claimed. We don’t want the captains of (construction and other business) industry to get their filthy paws on land earmarked for the community,” said Nagia.

“It looks like pockets of this land could be used by the city and private business. Some land is in the hands of private developers.”

Nagia added: “This shows that both the city and province (governments) don’t like working class families to come back (to the city). They like beautifying the ghettos and making townships look pretty. But if they bring in working class people that affects that property values.”

“Until they have transferred the land to the trust, we will be cautiously optimistic.”

Spokespersons for De Lille and deputy mayor Ian Nielsen but has not yet received a reply from either of them.

De Lille meanwhile told local media at the weekend that District Six held personal significance for her as she had been forcibly removed from there to Lavender Hill.

Zille meanwhile said R65-million had been allocated to build a wellness centre for the District Six residents.

Returning residents told local community radio station Voice of the Cape that being handed keys to their new homes was a “dream come true”.

Fatima Camoodien, 93, was forcibly removed to Kensington and returned to the area where she spent her youth.

“We waited long and suffered. I am happy that I’m back. We were happy in District Six and I’m happy now,” she said.

“The atmosphere here has a lot of barakah (blessings). We hear the athaan (Islamic call to prayer) here five times a day.”

PHOTOS: Dear Manenberg (19 August 2013)

Today went to check out what’s going on in Manenberg where gang violence over last few weeks has led to deaths and injuries. Schools have been closed and local government has thrown R6-million at fixing the problem. This is what I saw. All pics by Yazeed Kamaldien

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Manenberg teachers met at Phoenix High School today to discuss the area's violence.

Manenberg teachers met at Phoenix High School today to discuss the area’s violence.

Phoenix High School grade 12 learners say gang violence is affecting their preparations for end of year exams.

Phoenix High School grade 12 learners say gang violence is affecting their preparations for end of year exams.

Phoenix High School principal Shafiek Abrahams has a headache on his hands.

Phoenix High School principal Shafiek Abrahams has a headache on his hands.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Gang symbols in the school hall toilets.

Gang symbols in the school hall toilets.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

It should be abnormal to have police vans on school premises. When I see a police van it makes me feel uncomfortable and tense.

It should be abnormal to have police vans on school premises. When I see a police van it makes me feel uncomfortable and tense.

This sigh of a sign reads you as you enter Phoenix High School in Manenberg.

This sigh of a sign reads you as you enter Phoenix High School in Manenberg.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Manenberg teachers met at Phoenix High School today to discuss the area's violence.

Manenberg teachers met at Phoenix High School today to discuss the area’s violence.

He said: I'm not afraid of gangsters. But our children are scared.

He said: I’m not afraid of gangsters. But our children are scared.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

Police raid in Manenberg. Police said they wanted to check out a house they said was being used to hide guns.

It looked creepily quiet. Children would usually be playing in these streets.

It looked creepily quiet. Children would usually be playing in these streets.

Helicopter flying above the school and Manenberg. A few streets away from the school the police were raiding a house. I followed a cop car to find out what was happening...

Helicopter flying above the school and Manenberg. A few streets away from the school the police were raiding a house. I followed a cop car to find out what was happening…

Manenberg schools reopen, police gang hunt intensifies

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Police efforts to hunt down Manenberg’s gangsters intensified today (MONDAY) when the area’s 14 schools reopened but learners still walk about in fear.

At least ten police vehicles blocked Gamtroos Road in Manenberg to search a house suspected of being a hideout for gangs and guns. A police helicopter also hovered above the house as residents curiously observed the drama unfold.

“There’s nothing in that house. Just an elderly couple,” said a woman who did not want to be named.

At the same time, the area’s teachers held a public meeting attended by Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman. This meeting was held at Phoenix High School where the principal and learners said they were still traumatised.

School principal Shafiek Abrahams said “over the past ten weeks there has been gun shooting” in Manenberg. This is reportedly linked to the release from jail of a notorious gang leader.

Abrahams said his staff “couldn’t cope” and was among 14 schools that were closed last week. The schools reopened today after the provincial government sent in extra law enforcement officers to guard schools.

Fransman said today that police minister Nathi Mthethwa had also sent in police officers to assist in monitoring the area.

Abarahams said they were “apprehensive” to return to school today because “it’s really tough for us”.

“We are happy that we have extra security personnel. That was a sigh of relief. We felt a bit safe even though we heard shootings again this morning,” he said.

The school’s grade 12 learners said they were preparing for their final high school exam amidst trying times.

Chenica Witbooi said: “Many innocent people’s lives are put in danger. When I go to sleep at night I can hear gunshots. This also makes our school unstable.”

“One of our school’s pupils was buried on Saturday. He was on his way home from his friends when he was shot.”

Her classmate Yumna Johnson said gang violence was “robbing us of our education and freedom of walking around”.

“What’s the point of this? It affects our education. Our timetable has been affected because not everybody can attend class every day because of the shootings,” said Johnson.

Learner Gillian Gilbert said they were “too scared to trust or talk to anyone”.
“You don’t know what to expect. Anything can happen even when you walk down the road,” he said.

Fransman said he and trade union Cosatu representatives wanted to meet with the teachers to “do an assessment” of the situation. He said they were also “very concerned about the publicity stunt of (premier) Helen Zille”.

Fransman was referring to Zille’s announcement on Monday that she would divert R6-million from the provincial education department budget to fight gangs in Manenberg.

“We are saying don’t waste money when it comes to schools and books and teachers salaries. She (Zille) can’t tell us from which line item this money comes. Don’t dare touch money that’s supposed to be for schoolbooks and teacher’s salaries,” said Fransman.

He added: “There is enough money in (the provincial department of) community safety. We have identified R10-million that can come from its coffers.”

Fransman said the provincial government should “work with the national police, not against them” and “stop funding NGOs that work with gangs”.

Helen Zille: “drugs are worse than apartheid”

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Premier Helen Zille has already spent R87-million on fighting drugs in the Western Cape this year but the problem has now become “worse than apartheid,” she said earlier today (MONDAY).

“There’s not a place (in the province) where dealers don’t reach,” said Zille.

“It’s worse than apartheid. Apartheid mobilised people. When you become addicted you are enslaved. You become incapacitated.”

Zille and her MEC for social development Albert Fritz outlined their various programmes to combat and prevent drug abuse.

Premier Helen Zille and social development MEC Albert Fritz. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Premier Helen Zille and social development MEC Albert Fritz. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Zille said among their plans are to continue “random drug tests” at high schools in the province. She said the schools would not be publically named and learners’ identities would remain anonymous.

“It’s (drug testing) not designed to catch pupils and put them in jail. It’s designed to help teachers and principals deal with it (drugs at schools),” said Zille.

Zille also said that she understood why locals were taking the law into their own hands to fight crime and drugs.

“I’ll never justify anyone taking the law into their own hands but understand the frustration of a community who don’t see appropriate action by police who don’t ensure that drug dealers are convicted,” she said.

She also continued her campaign against the police, which falls under the mandate of national police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“Police say they know where the drug dealers are but can’t find enough evidence to put them away (in jail)… for some or other reason,” said Zille.

“We catch the addicts but not the guy who gets more kids enslaved. You have to get the big fish.”

Zille said her administration had “doubled of our annual budget for interventions to address substance abuse over the last four years, from just R42-million when we came into office in 2009, to R87-million this year”.

Zilled added: “We will be investing half a billion rand in these services over the next five years should the DA remain in office.”

Zille diverts R6-million from education budget to fight Cape gangs

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Capetonians responded with anger at Premier Helen Zille’s decision earlier today to divert R6-million from the province’s education budget to fight brutal gangs in Manenberg.

Zille said this amount would be given to Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security member JP Smith. He said he already had been given R24-million this year “which would likely increase” to fight crime in the city.

Left to right: Dan Plato, Helen Zille, Patricia de Lille and JP Smith. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Left to right: Dan Plato, Helen Zille, Patricia de Lille and JP Smith. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Zille was flanked at the provincial government headquarters by Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and two politicians employed to keep crime under control: Smith and provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato.

Zille’s decision comes after 14 schools in Manenberg were closed last week due to gang violence. At least 50 persons have reportedly already been killed or injured.
Zille said this “spike in gang violence” often “revenge killings” was linked to the release from jail of a prominent gang leader in the area.

De Lille said the R6-million would “have to be diverted from other priorities in education”. Zille said she did not have a “line by line” breakdown though of how this would affect the education department’s priorities.

Locals were unimpressed with Zille’s education budget slash. Capetonian Ferial Samodien Mohamed called it “very short-sighted” and said funds should be “procured from elsewhere”.

“This is a tale of two cities. The pristine conditions and services in the wealthy areas are maintained no matter what. But taking from education is taking from the poor,” she said.

“That’s why Zille is in no hurry to legislate (education) norms and standards so that she can dip into education whenever she pleases.”

Another local Armien Cassiem said this decision “clearly shows education earmarked for the poor is not their (Western Cape government’s) priority”.

“After all, their kids attend privileged schools,” said Cassiem.

And Fayruz Patton asked angrily: “Why take from education? Why R6-million? For what?”
“Why not reduce the salaries of over paid ministers or cut costs in other unnecessary areas? Cutting costs in education is illogical since the key component to reducing crime in poverty stricken areas is to educate,” said Patton.

Smith said Manenberg’s schools would reopen on Monday and three security personnel would be sent to each of the 14 schools. He said the R6-million would be used for the next four months to keep schools safe.

JP Smith (right) and Helen Zille plan to spend R6-million from the Western Cape education budget to fight Cape Town's gangs. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

JP Smith (right) and Helen Zille plan to spend R6-million from the Western Cape education budget to fight Cape Town’s gangs. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

De Lille said she had authorised an increase of security staff in Manenberg to 114 metro and traffic officers that would “be withdrawn from service elsewhere” for the next two weeks.

“This prioritisation happens at the expense of law enforcement in other areas,” said De Lille.

“We will continue to appeal to the police to deploy additional resources to Manenberg, particularly during this increasingly violent time.”

Zille and her crew proceeded to spend a chunk of time blaming the national police ministry for not doing its job of securing the Western Cape.

Police minister Nathi Mthethwa has meanwhile agreed to meet Zille on Thursday this week to discuss the city’s bloody gang warfare.

Zille reiterated calls for the “deployment of the army” in the Cape’s gang hotspots. The national police ministry already said last week said she should sort out crime in the province and refrain from calling for military intervention.

Police ministry: Zille should fix Cape crime

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Premier Helen Zille should fix crime in the Western Cape instead of calling on army deployment, said the national police ministry yesterday.

Zweli Mnisi, spokesperson for national police minister Nathi Mthethwa, said Zille and “those who are calling for the army to resolve such challenges are missing the point”.

“Let the provincial leadership provide essential services. We urge them to prioritise recreational areas, community upliftment programmes, proper schooling and drug rehabilitation programmes,” said Mnisi.

“The very same programmes which are found in affluent suburbs like Camps Bay and Constantia must be prioritised in poverty affected townships such as Gugulethu, Manenberg and Khayelitsha.”

Mnisi responded harshly to Zille’s open letter to Mthethwa issued to the media on Wednesday.
He said: “Is this a season of open letters where government leaders, instead of utilising appropriate structures or even face-to-face engagements, resort to open letters?”

“Our approach as the ministry of police is premised along engagements and lasting solutions, not public relations at the expense of something as serious as crime.”

In the letter, Zilled called on Mthethwa to meet her to discuss solutions to the Cape’s gang hotspots. This included Manenberg where 14 schools would remain closed today (FRIDAY), confirmed the education department yesterday.

Zille’s spokesperson Zak Mbhele said yesterday Mthethwa “agreed to the premier’s meeting request”.

“We’re encouraged… a discussion will take place next week (Thursday) that will hopefully lead to clarity and detailed, concrete information on the police’s strategy to deal with gang violence,” said Mbhele.

Mnisi comments suggested that the military would in all likelihood not be deployed on the deadly Cape Flats ganglands, as Zille had requested.

He instead criticised Zilled and provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato for “constant, negative criticism of police, which in our view, renders them prone to attacks and killings by criminals”.

“What we have seen as a trend from the provincial leadership of the Western Cape is affirmed by such approaches of engaging via open letters,” he said.

He added: “Mthethwa convenes a regular meeting with all MECs responsible for policing, where Plato is an attendee. In most (meetings) he never raises issues in this forum but immediately after, media briefings are convened and we have this blatant attack on the work of the police.

“We hold a view that such practices are not only discouraging all the hardworking police but also undermine our efforts in fighting crime. We do not expect him (Plato) to sing undeserved high praises to the police, but where police have done well, to give due credence.”

Mnisi referred to Plato’s recent “press conference where he lambasted the police leadership and provincial management accusing them of inefficiency”.

He said the police ministry was involved in combating the Western Cape’s substance abuse battles – often linked to gangs and crime – with the “establishment of technical task teams involving different government departments”.

“It is based on the National Drug Master Plan aimed at reducing demand, harm and supply, and which focuses more on prevention, early intervention, treatment and after-care and re-integration,” said Mnisi.

“South Africa is both a transit country and an end user country and over the last year alone 41 drug laboratories were closed down by the Hawks. The links between growing gangsterism and the illicit trade in drugs is also becoming a serious concern.”

Mnisi said the police was “now focusing on the arrests of drug empires or kingpins”. He said over the last two years 669 arrests had been made in which “about 298,804.847kg of drugs were confiscated with a monetary value of R95-million”.

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Calls for the army to step into the Cape’s fight against gangs should follow due process, said the defense force’s spokesperson yesterday.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga was responding to Premier Helen Zille’s calls for the army to step in as a peace-keeping force. This could only be authorised by President Jacob Zuma, after Parliament raises the matter.

Mabanga said “maintaining law and order was the duty of the police” though.

“However, should the police feel that the situation is overwhelming for them, then it is within the constitution that they may request support from the department of defense,” he said.

“After analysing the situation from the security point of view, the police may submit their request for support (to Parliament). Only the president can approve that. If Western Cape premier feels that it (the military) should be deployed the laws of the country prescribes these processes.”

Mabanga said the “concern in the Western Cape about gangsters is the responsibility of the police”.

He said a state of emergency would only be called by the president when the “security of the state is placed in danger or when something threatens national security”.

“It is not a provincial emergency. It implies the nation as a whole,” he said.