It’s still dark in Khayelitsha

| Nokubonga Yawa
Street lights on Lansdowne Road Khayelitsha. Photo by Nokubonga Yawa.

Earlier this year, GroundUp published a story on the issue of street lights not working on Lansdowne Road in Khayelitsha.

This article is part of our focus on wards.

After the story was published, the City of Cape Town contacted GroundUp to identify the area that has been affected. Mayoral Committee member for Utility Services, Shehaam Sims, said “We did suspect that there’s a problem in that area, but we will definitely do something”.

It is now two months since GroundUp published the story and still the people of Makhaza do not have working street lights along Lansdowne Road.

We asked the City’s Fault Reporting Centre how long it takes to fix lights after faults are reported. Danielle Herbert of the centre replied, “If one to ten lights are reported it can take up to 14 days to be repaired. If the entire area is off we get the standby to go out immediately on the same day.”

A young woman named Siyasanga works at Century City as a cashier and comes back very late at night. She says she has been robbed twice this year along Lansdowne Road at night. It is less than two minutes to walk from the taxi to her house in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, yet she has been held up at gunpoint and robbed. The robber took her bag with all of her belongings.

Patience Dunga, from the same area was robbed last month. She was also held up at gunpoint and the thief took her phone and money. Both victims said that they couldnโ€™t recognise the people who robbed them because it all happened so fast and it was dark so they could not see their assailants.

GroundUp contacted Danile Khatshwa, the ward councillor of Makhaza, to ask about the state of the street lights and to also get a plan and deadline on when the lights will be fixed. Khatshwa said about two months ago he recieved a call from the City of Cape Town. He was told that there was someone fixing lights on the other side of Khayelitsha.

Councillor Sims from the Mayoral Committee told GroundUp, “The reinstatement of street lights is ongoing. Work has started at the west side, systematically moving eastwards.”

Sims explained that Lansdowne Road lights have been fixed up to Bonga Drive where possible. Lindela Road up to Baden Powell, on ward 96, is not yet on the list of the lights that have been fixed, Khatshwa is worried about the City of Cape Town failing to respond to councillors. He worries that the City is trying to make some councillors look as if they are failing.

Councillor Sims said that community members should take ownership of their infrastructure. โ€œThe money spent on replacing vandalised street lights could be far better spent on new projects for the community,โ€ she said.

Gavin Silber, the co-ordinator of the Social Justice Coalition, says this is not just about dark streets. “The issue of these lights affects people who live in the informal settlements. People who must walk a distance and cross dark roads to relieve themselves are at high risk of being attacked or raped.” Silber also said Khayelitsha has a high pedestrian motality rate due to people being hit by cars when crossing the road to access toilets.

To report street light faults phone the City of Cape Town’s call centre on 086 010 3089.

TOPICS:  Government Local government

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