School even had its burglar bars stolen

3 hours 30 minutes ago
Parents close Empumalanga Primary in protest as school is stripped by thieves

By Joseph Chirume

22 May 2018

Photo of
Empumalanga Primary School in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, is being stripped bare by thieves. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Parents shut down Empumalanga Primary School in Motherwell in Port Elizabeth on Monday in a protest over escalating vandalism. Parents blame the provincial education department for failing to protect the school. The school has 1,094 learners.

Thieves have stripped Empumalanga Primary of window panes, water taps, ceilings, toilet seats, copper cables and lights. They have even taken the burglar bars. Computers in the library were also stolen.

School Governing Board chairperson Nontuthuzelo Jack said that criminals easily scaled the dilapidated fence around the school. “It is our children who end up suffering. We want the department to secure the school perimeter. We demand a strong wall,” said Jack.

“We have been told by officials from the department that we will only be assisted after July as there is no money at present,” she said.

A parent, Pumeza Socuza, accused people whose houses are close to the school of failing to raise the alarm. “There are many houses opposite the school. Why is it they don’t let us know when a robbery is in progress? This means they are working together with the criminals.”

But Lunga Dube, who lives close to the school, blames local scrap metal dealers. “We often hear criminals at night breaking into the school, but we can not do anything for fear of being targeted by the robbers,” he said.

Siphokazi Marwana, another parent at the school, said she has seen bits of the school, such as doors and window panes, appearing in a nearby informal settlement that has recently sprung up. “The police said they could not act because the stolen school property does not have marks with the name of the school … This has created a sour relationship between us and residents of the informal settlement,” she said.

She said she fears for the safety of children as some children were recently robbed of their lunch boxes and their school bags while they were on the school premises.

Nosisanda Fountain, who prepares food for the school nutrition programme, said, “Criminals break through the kitchen ceiling and steal cooking utensils and food. Our kitchen is now not operating to its capacity.”

Spokesperson at the Eastern Cape Department of Education Loyiso Pulumani said the Port Elizabeth district director of education would investigate.

Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said, “As the police we conduct patrols at schools. We even intensify our patrols during school holidays, weekends and during the night because criminals often operate those times. We also contact school management when we see something wrong at their schools.”

A toilet that has been stripped at Empumalanga Primary School in Motherwell in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Joseph Cirume

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Land occupiers in Parkwood say they’ve waited 16 years

23 hours 42 minutes ago
MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela to meet backyard dwellers on Tuesday

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

21 May 2018

Photo of a sign
Backyarders from Parkwood marked plots and attempted to occupy vacant land over the weekend. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Protests broke out on Sunday and continued on Monday between police and land occupiers in Parkwood in Cape Town’s south peninsula. GroundUp saw people stoning a passing beverage delivery truck on Prince George Drive on Monday morning.

On vacant land at Walmer Road a group of people huddled near a few burning tyres to keep warm. Plots had been demarcated with wooden poles and tape.

Chairperson of the Parkwood Backyarders Association Dominique Booysen said they started the occupation on Friday. “We were peaceful. We had even handed a memorandum to our ward councillor about our housing needs on Saturday.”

She said violence erupted on Sunday in retaliation after “the police started literally kicking people off the land”.

A municipal office in Parkwood was set alight and looted. The floor was strewn with documents. Computers were stolen, said a City employee.

“We do not want any violence. As you can see, even now we are quiet, just sitting, doing our own thing … Some of us [including herself] have been backyarders for more than 16 years,” said Booysen.

Masnoena Samsodien said she had also been a backyarder for 16 years. “What pains me is that I thought I was on a housing waiting list all this time, only to find out I wasn’t. We were tricked when politicians came here campaigning saying that they are registering us … I am still waiting for a house.”

Some of the land occupiers said they pay as much as R3,500 and R4,000 to rent a Wendy house or shack in a backyard.

In a statement, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements said, “While we respect the people’s right to protest, violence and destruction cannot be tolerated.”

The department confirmed that the provincial minister Bonginkosi Madikizela had received a memorandum of grievances from the Parkwood councillor.

“The Minister engaged the leadership of the area and it was agreed that a meeting to help find solutions for Parkwood be held on Tuesday 22 May,” said Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson for Madikizela.

This municipal office in Parkwood was torched and looted on Sunday. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

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Small, local solutions can crack water crises: a South African case study

1 day 2 hours ago
People in the HaMakuya community go without potable water for months. Melissa McHale

World attention has recently been focused on the water crisis facing the South African city of Cape Town, a metropolis of four million people. There is obviously deep sympathy with the plight of the residents. But the drama draws attention away from an even more concerning set of issues. The main one is that many people in rural southern Africa live without any potable water at all. And many are at serious risk because of global climate change.

Residents of the wealthy suburbs of Cape Town have been asked to reduce their consumption to less than 50 litres per person per day, one sixth of the daily consumption of the average American. But elsewhere in village after village in sub-Saharan Africa women walk miles to scoop water from polluted ground wells for their average daily ration of less than 20 litres a day.

We have been studying this kind of crisis in South Africa for the last two decades. Our most recent work examined water quality, reliability and accessibility in rural communities living along the western edge of one of the world’s largest game reserves, South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Our data, over the last seven years, reveal a very complex and desperate situation. We set out to understand more than basic water quality problems and integrated social and environmental factors into our research. To do this, we used a variety of methods to collect information about people’s experiences in the different locations they collected, stored and used water.

This approach provides a clear picture of the solutions needed to support people’s quality of life. In some instances, where government’s audit on water services found successful water service provisioning, our data found the complete opposite.

A different research approach

South Africa’s post-apartheid National Water Act is one of the most advanced examples of legislation globally. It asserts that both people and the environment have constitutional rights to water. But achieving this has yet to be realised.

HaMakuya, a group of 21 villages nestled in the north eastern corner of South Africa, face set of common challenges. These communities remain marginalised. Their situation hasn’t improved since the end of apartheid.

National government surveys claim that these areas are fully provided for when it comes to water. This isn’t true. Communities are plagued by drying boreholes, broken and poorly maintained infrastructure, degraded water resources, increasing droughts, urbanisation pressures and nonfunctional local government structures.

After working with the HaMakuya community for 20 years, we have seen clear evidence of a long-term water crisis that’s getting worse over time. People go without a stable and potable water source for months. Sometimes they don’t even have enough water to cook staple foods like maize meal.

It was not surprising, therefore, when community leaders asked us eight years ago to help them understand and resolve their water resource challenges. The request prompted us to try a different approach to studying the water crisis in the region. We started working with local people, including them as active participants. We also trained young people as environmental monitors to collect long-term water quality data.

We found that every village had a different story. For example there were high concentrations of nitrates in water in one community which posed a health hazard. Another had water that was highly saline in taste. Even villages dependent on the same water source sometimes had different challenges: while one had quality water, others suffered from E. Coli contamination.

This complexity poses a problem for implementing large-scale, regional solutions. But it also provides an opportunity to introduce local, positive changes that have an immediate impact.

What makes the need for local-level solutions even more urgent is that present problems have the maximum impact on the most vulnerable populations. For example, when water is available most of the schools in this region have water that is contaminated with E. coli.

But as local solutions are developed, there also need to be ways of providing feedback, and tracking potential unintended consequences. Many technological solutions have failed because specific cultural, social, and environmental factors were overlooked in trying a quick fix.

A different approach

Across the world a range of studies on water technologies, planning, and resource challenges show that local, place-based solutions must be invested in. Our work in HaMakuya supports this increasingly important call for a different approach to water management.

And solutions don’t have to involve huge money investments. At the right scale, and with careful consideration of the cultural, social, environmental, and technological landscape, they can lead to sustainable and resilient communities – a hopeful future for people who have been consistently under-resourced and ill-treated.

Grand visions of a Utopian state in which each citizen has equal access to environmental resources are all very well, and laudable. But unless there is investment in the more modest, local complexities of maintenance, training, and village distribution, poor people will continue to suffer at the expense of the wealthier and more distant cities.

The Cape Town crisis has all the hallmarks of crises soon to be faced by large cities like Mexico City, Melbourne, Denver, and Jakarta. We believe that the true political and environmental character of the immediate global emergency is better read in the dust, the creak of ancient pistons, and the meagre, saline seepage from failing wells that have come to define daily life in rural South Africa.

The Conversation

Melissa McHale receives funding from the National Science Foundation. A large team of researchers and community partners associated with the IMAGINE Program ( contributed to the research discussed in this article. Notably, Terrie Litzenberger, Elizabeth Nichols, and April James developed the water quality methods and Terrie led our students in implementing that effort on the ground in South Africa. Two graduate students, Scott Beck and Shawn Shiflett, have made a substantial contribution to the interdisciplinary water analysis and will be publishing our results. This work could not have been completed without the time and energy of the HaMakuya community and support provided by the Tshulu Trust.

David Bunn receives funding from South Africa's National Research Foundation. He is a board member of the Tshulu Trust, and of the Nsasani Trust, both in South Africa.

Eddie Riddell receives funding from the Water Research Commission, WWF Nedbank Green Trust and the NRF.

Rubbish piles up in Harare

3 days 22 hours ago
Ivory Park residents complain of poor city services

By Tariro Washinyira

18 May 2018

“It is by the grace of God that we didn’t experience cholera outbreak during the rainy season,” says Ivory Park resident. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Residents of Ivory Park in Harare, Zimbabwe, have been without refuse collection for years despite paying their rates every month.

Ivory Park, located about 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre, is a relatively new township, popular with the younger generation. A resident says that since she moved to the neighbourhood with her family in 2009, the city council has never provided bins or collected refuse. “The children born here don’t even know what a madhodha bin [garbage truck] looks like,” she said.

She showed GroundUp her rates receipt for US$100 a month.

As there is no city collection, people burn their garbage. “We also suffer from air pollution every time the garbage is burnt … We have more than three dumping places and they are always near houses and wells where we get drinking water,” she complained.

“It is by the grace of God that we didn’t experience a cholera outbreak during the rainy season,” she says. Zimbabwe has had several cholera outbreaks. In 2008–2009, over 4,000 people died. In January this year the country was on high alert after 200 cases of typhoid were reported in Harare and cholera broke out in Chegutu.

Many residents in the area are poor and have informal employment, selling airtime, sweets, chips, vegetables and eggs at market stalls. Some are black market money changers, buying and selling US dollars and South African rands and Ecocash (a popular mobile payment system).

“It’s not just refuse collection. All the roads have potholes and have become gravel. Government funds national government projects with money that should be used to develop Ivory Park,” said a resident.

“Here in Zimbabwe you can’t complain about services … They are not providing anything besides water reticulation. Tap water is now only used to flush toilets. It’s filthy and smells badly,” he said.

He said many councillors are aligned to the main opposition party, the MDC, and he accused the ZANU-PF national government of sabotaging service delivery. “Harare has collapsed in the hands of the current government, from the sunshine city to nothing, but they [ZANU-PF] still can’t let go,” he said.

The problem is not limited to Ivory Park. In other townships and some places in the city centre there are also piles of stinking garbage.

Spokesperson for the Harare City Council Michael Chideme acknowledged receipt of GroundUp’s questions on Wednesday but had not replied at the time of publication.

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Engcobo residents demand mayor step down

3 days 22 hours ago
Community organisations allege corruption, demand municipality be put under administration

By Yamkela Ntshongwana

18 May 2018

Photo of protesters
Residents, the Black Business Forum, SANCO, the taxi and the ratepayers association are calling for Mayor Lizeka Bongo-Tyali to step down.

Hundreds of residents of Engcobo in the Eastern Cape protested on Wednesday and Thursday, alleging corruption and demanding that Mayor Lizeka Bongo-Tyali step down.

The Black Business Forum, South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), as well as the taxi and the ratepayers association supported the march. Among the demands are that Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle dissolve the municipality and appoint an administrator.

The protest started on Wednesday. Some residents threatened to jump the municipal fence and to beat the mayor, but police and security officers kept a tight perimeter around the municipal offices. A placard read “Lizeka Must fall” and the crowd sang a song, Lizeka uzowa ufane wakwela ecingweni (Lizeka you will fall even if you can climb the fence).

The municipal offices and all shops, including petrol stations, were shut. Residents at first forced truck drivers travelling on the R61 to Mthatha to block entrances to Engcobo with their trucks.

“This Municipality only serves individuals,” said Dumisa Nobenza, chairperson of the Black Business Forum. “Since 2016, we have been sending petitions here demanding service delivery with no luck. People need toilets, clean water and proper houses, but what we get is a number of empty promises.”

He said, “As residents we have decided to come here and close this municipality because obviously they do not take us seriously.”

Resident Ntomboxolo Rhashula, from Bhojana, said that in her area there are no toilets, no accessible roads and the bridge the municipality was building is unfinished.

“Our children do not go to school if it is raining because the river will overflow and they will be unable to cross … If it happens that the rain starts when they are still in school, we have to send people to go wait for them in the river and help them cross,” she said.

On Wednesday the protesters waited for five hours before Monde Sotana, the service delivery monitor of the premier, was sent, but the demonstrators said it was too late for talking and taking down grievances. Sotana tried to contact the premier telephonically in front of the crowd and put the phone on loud speaker, but the premier’s phone was off.

Bantu Songca of SANCO said that they will continue with the protests until the mayor steps down.

According to Lusizo Ntshinka, communications officer of Engcobo municipality, a petition was given to the premier who promised to respond within seven days. He confirmed the municipality had previously received petitions and he said demands had been attended to. “We hope for the best because our interest is to see people getting services they voted for … I trust they will come around and let us deliver services to our people,’’ said Ntshinka.

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Overcrowding leads to Ekurhuleni land occupation

5 days 3 hours ago
New settlement named after Abahlali baseMjondolo president S’bu Zikode

By Nation Nyoka

16 May 2018

Photo of people occupying land
Residents of Good Hope in Germiston have begun a land occupation. Photo: Nation Nyoka

A few days before a cold front swept over Gauteng, a group of shack dwellers braved a cold night in a bid to secure a piece of vacant land.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 12 May, residents from Good Hope’s Extension 5 erected makeshift structures on a piece of land adjacent to a shack settlement called Ramaphosa in Germiston, Ekurhuleni. The community had been organising the land occupation for six months, claiming that the land had been vacant for 40 years.

Space is a luxury for residents of Good Hope, who have named the newly occupied land Zikode Extension after Abahlali baseMjondolo president S’bu Zikode. Zikode is one of the founding members of shack dweller movement Abahlali, which was formed in the mid-2000s.

“We have been living in shacks for many years. They are overpopulated. There are no toilets, and there is no improvement. I am 58 years, and in my life, I have never owned a piece of land. I am getting so old and I am going to die and leave nothing for the future of my kids,” said a community member.

“Some of us haven’t slept or bathed, we were up all night surrounding a small fire we had made. We left our kids unattended at home to secure this land from as early as Friday,” said Abahlali’s Nomnikelo Sigenu.

Wooden poles were stuck in the ground to mark out plots for shacks.

Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department dismantled about ten shacks on Saturday.

During the weekend more people brought wood gathered from a forest on the other side of Commissioner Road. They used the wood to mark out yards. The community also managed to raise R800 for building materials.

Police later demolished the shacks. Two officers who asked not to be named said they sympathised with the community members, but they had a job to do they said.

Police spokesperson Kobedi Mokheseng told New Frame that community members could claim their materials and possessions at the Boksburg pound.

“When we respond to land grabbers, we usually have instructions from corporate, which is the municipality … So when we demolish and impound the material, we are acting on instruction from that office,” he said, referring New Frame to the Ekurhuleni city council for comment.

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Lesiba Mpya told New Frame that no study had yet been done to declare the land fit for permanent occupation. He said that the department will not tolerate the illegal occupation of land. “The land [they are on] belongs to the City,” Mpya said.

He said the occupied land had not been developed because it was set aside in case of emergencies so that people can be temporarily placed there. He gave, as an example, what happened to the people of Yulana last year. “Because they live in low-lying areas, we were compelled to move them to an area of safety. We moved them just adjacent to the land where [the people of Good Hope] have tried to occupy.”

Mpya said the City has made a commitment to provide 59,000 serviced stands in the next five years. He appealed for patience.

Sigenu, who has been living in Extension 5 since 2010, said the community intends to erect an estimated 500 shacks. She said the occupiers have sought legal advice from the Socio-Economic Research Institute (SERI) to help prevent their shacks getting demolished.

Produced for GroundUp by New Frame.

Correction: The original version of the article stated that Good Hope is in Boksburg. It’s in Germiston.

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Growing Western Cape protests show citizens expect greater accountability

5 days 4 hours ago
Protesters occupy a national highway in the Western Cape. EPA/Nic Bothma

The Western Cape, the second wealthiest province in South Africa after Gauteng, is the only one governed by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). The party won control of the province in 2009, under the leadership of its then leader Helen Zille. It has been in charge of the City of Cape Town since 2006.

In its competition with the African National Congress (ANC), which governs the country and the eight other provinces, the DA has often used the province and the city as examples of the kind of good governance that it can bring to the rest of the country. The Western Cape outshone the eight other provinces on clean audits in the most recent local government audit reports.

The DA also claims to have made much greater progress than the ANC on a range of fronts, including land reform. But, significant challenges remain in the province, as shown by the upsurge in protests in recent weeks.

The protests were reportedly prompted by unhappiness over access to land, low-cost housing and the provision of basic household services such as water and sanitation. The spate of protests has taken place despite various efforts and the recent implementation of a plan aimed at reversing the legacy of apartheid spatial planning and improving service delivery.

We examined data from the South African Social Attitudes Survey, conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council annually since 2003. It shows that there has been a decline in public confidence in local governance in the Western Cape over the past 12 months. In addition, there’s been growing dissatisfaction with the delivery of certain key services. The most marked changes are over people’s satisfaction with housing provision, water and sanitation and land reform.

Satisfaction levels on the decline

The data shows that there’s been a demonstrable decline in the number of people satisfied with the provision of low-cost housing in the province since the start of Zille’s second term as premier in 2014. While half the province’s population was satisfied with the provision of low-cost housing four years ago, only a third were satisfied by late 2017 (Fig. 1).

There have been similar dips in service delivery performance ratings in the Western Cape in the last year. For instance, approval of water and sanitation delivery fell from 86% in 2016 to 61% in 2017. Satisfaction with land reform declined from 46% in 2016 to 29% in 2017.

Confidence in local government has fared somewhat better, varying between 36% and 45% during Zille’s first term of office (2009-2014), and increasing during the first couple of years of her second term (from 38% in 2013 to 57% by 2016). But, there was a distinct decline in confidence in local government in the Western Cape between 2016 and 2017, falling from 57% to 44%.

These declines in public confidence are not necessarily due to provincial performance alone. It is more likely that these trends reflect a growing dissatisfaction with democracy and governance in South African society more broadly. For example, only 6% of Western Cape residents were satisfied with the general economic situation in 2017, and a sobering 20% expressed satisfaction with the way democracy is working.

These critical evaluations speak to a fundamental shift in the political mood in the province against which new developments, such as protest action, should to be contextualised.

The protest vote

The recent protests that occurred within the province are clearly at odds with the typical view of Western Cape residents towards mass action. This tends to be characterised by strong disapproval of any form of disruptive and violent action, as shown by the 2016 survey results (Fig. 2).

By contrast, peaceful protest is seen in a favourable light (80% positive) and regarded by many (62%) as effective.

The fact that the protests have continued despite this prevailing view speaks to a sense of frustration and desperation in certain communities, particularly those that are poorer and more vulnerable.

Responding to public needs

Governing parties and officials need to take note of the frustration being expressed by ordinary South Africans, particularly given that the country goes to the polls next year in national elections.

The response to protests shouldn’t be heavy-handed policing. Instead, what’s needed is for governments – local, provincial and national – to understand the basis for protests and then to ensure a swift resolution of public concerns. Regular public engagement is needed, by municipalities in particular, and the use of innovative approaches (including social media) must be made a priority for communicating with communities.

A failure to do so is likely to reinforce a sense that the country is becoming less democratic and that the social distance between the elected and the electorate is widening.

Samela Mtyingizane, a Master’s Research Intern at the HSRC, was part of the research team. Readers requiring the detailed data from the survey should please contact the HSRC at

The Conversation

Benjamin Roberts receives general financial support from various government and non-governmental agencies in securing the costs associated with the annual fielding of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS). This funding has no bearing on the scope and interpretation of the survey analysis.

Jare Struwig receives general financial support from various government and non-governmental agencies in securing the costs associated with the annual fielding of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS). This funding has no bearing on the scope and interpretation of the survey analysis.

Narnia Bohler-Muller receives research funding from various government and non-government sponsors as part of competitive tender-based processes.

Steven Gordon receives funding from DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development. He is affiliated with Human Sciences Research Council.

Yul Derek Davids receives general financial support from various government and non-governmental agencies in securing funding for project related work at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). The funding has no bearing on the scope and interpretation of the analysis of survey data and project related information.

We are living in a pigsty says ward councillor

5 days 6 hours ago
Informal dumps spread in Tshepisong West as garbage goes uncollected

By Zoë Postman

17 May 2018

Photo of garbage
Residents of Tshepisong West say the mound of garbage pictured above has been piling up for three months. This is one of five dumping sites GroundUp visited in the settlement. Photo: Zoë Postman

Residents of Tshepisong West, an informal settlement west of Johannesburg, say garbage has only been collected twice in the area in the past four months. Ward Councillor Sylvia Monakale (ANC) said both times she had to call Pikitup, the waste removal entity of the City of Johannesburg, to come and collect refuse bags after members of the community had cleaned up the area themselves.

“The City has failed to service Tshepisong and Tshepisong West … They do not care about us. We are … living in a pigsty here,” said Monakale. She said she had contacted mayoral committee member Nico de Jager (DA) in May, but had received no response.

She said she had asked Pikitup area manager from the Zondi depot for plastic bags, gloves and masks for a community-led clean up campaign. Pikitup said it was under resourced and could only provide plastic bags.

Pikitup, however, flatly denies that it hasn’t conducted garbage collection and says it has been providing the service weekly since 16 February.

In February, GroundUp reported on the disagreement between Pikitup and former Jozi@Work employees, who prevented Pikitup from entering Tshepisong to collect garbage. The Jozi@Work contracts ended in December last year.

Muzi Mkhwanazi, spokesperson for Pikitup, said an offer made by the company and city officials was rejected by the Jozi@Work members on 10 January. He said Pikitup had to withdraw its services because of threats of violence during the dispute. Follow up meetings were held on the 9, 16 and 23 February.

He said since 16 February “refuse collection has been completed every week, either on the scheduled day or on the rare occasion of a breakdown, the following day. Illegal dumping collection has been continuing as scheduled once every 13 days … For 11 days between 8 and 23 March 2018, dedicated illegal dumping resources were allocated to this area to assist with backlogs and have since then reverted back to once every 13 days.”

He said former Jozi@Work employees would be insourced and this process is underway.

GroundUp visited five illegal dumping sites. Some of them are located near food vendors and shops. People were digging through the stinking garbage for recyclable materials.

Walter Ramphaka has lived in Tshepisong West for 18 years. “We had to fight to get electricity; we had to fight to get a tar road … We are so tired of fighting for our basic rights … We cannot live like this … It’s not like this in the suburbs. You can only see this in our townships,” said Ramphaka.

Another resident, Hector van Wyk, said things were better when Jozi@Work provided the service. “It’s fine if they [the City] wanted to get rid of Jozi@Work, but they should have replaced it with something that works,” he said.

Both residents said the garbage had attracted rats.

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Western Cape’s mounting rubbish problem

5 days 6 hours ago
Less than half of the province’s landfill sites are operational

By Annie Cebulski

17 May 2018

Photo of a dump
Vissershok Landfill is one of the few Western Cape waste sites that is fully operational and compliant with regulation. Photo: Eryn Scannell

“We have a serious waste problem in the Western Cape. We are running out of landfill space,” Minister of Environmental Affairs Anton Bredell warned in a press release.

The Western Cape generated approximately three million tonnes of waste in 2017 according to the government. The City of Cape Town alone produced almost 7,000 tonnes of waste per day last year.

According to Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, head of communication for environmental affairs, the Western Cape is having trouble keeping up. “The growth in waste quantities is placing a strain on the limited waste management infrastructure,” Van Jaarsveldt said. Population growth and industrial growth are driving up waste production.

To add to the problem, 93 out of 164 landfills in the Western Cape had closed, having reached the end of their natural lifespan, according to James-Brent Styan, spokesperson for the provincial minister of environmental affairs.

An audit found that, in 2015, 61% of waste management facilities it studied required “major improvements”. A Western Cape government report lists as concerns a “lack of cover material, windblown litter, fencing maintenance, stormwater management, limited machinery and a lack of suitably qualified staff”.

Van Jaarsveldt said political instability in some municipalities also played a role in non-compliance. Most landfills in the study had less than five years of use remaining.

In response, the department will open new regional waste facilities instead of opening more local landfills, which Van Jaarsveldt said face resistance from communities and are expensive due to national regulations.

The Western Cape strategy of regional landfills is a short-term solution, but a good one, according to Ika Pietersen, national operations director for WastePlan, a national on-site waste management company specialising in recycling and reducing waste sent to landfills.

Pietersen said, “[With a regional landfill] You only have one landfill, one big place, that you can manage properly instead of local landfills that can’t handle operations because of lack of resources.”

Van Jaarsveldt said the Western Cape plans to have nine regional landfills open in the province. Facilities are in planning stages in the districts of Eden, Central Karoo, West Coast and Overberg. District landfills in the winelands and in the City have been delayed by long legal processes. The West Coast has two existing facilities and the Overberg one.

These new waste management sites are expensive and Styan says the solution is increasing recycling and minimising waste.

Styan said some projects already in the works include using bacteria to break down garbage to turn it into energy, using high temperatures to decompose organic material or turn it into gas, mulching and composting.

The Western Cape estimates that the province recycled 1.8 million tonnes of waste material “via municipal and private recycling activities and alternative waste treatment and beneficiation of waste material” in 2017.

Styan said the Western Cape government aims to divert half of organic materials from landfills in five years time and implement a landfill ban in ten years.

“This is a national crisis and we [Western Cape] are trying to be proactive,” said Styan.

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State of the art library to open in Dunoon

5 days 21 hours ago
Libraries in poor communities have to be built from scratch

By Annie Cebulski

Photo of a building under construction
A R39-million, three-storey library is nearing completion in Dunoon. The library will use natural lighting, LED lights and a rainwater recycling system to flush toilets. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A R39.3-million three-storey library is set to open this year in Dunoon. The service is much needed. Schools in the area, such as Inkwenkwezi Secondary School, lack study space. Inkwenkwezi also has only a limited number of books, many outdated, according to Kwanda Chonco, who teaches grades 8 to 12.

Phaphama Ndlazi, a grade 8 student at the school, says he looks forward to studying English in Dunoon’s first library. “We can study at school, but there is not enough space for us to study … So some students don’t get to [study],” said Ndlazi.

The budget for the City of Cape Town’s Library and Information Services for the year is R30 million, of which R9 million will be spent to complete the Dunoon library. The rest of the library budget has to fund new materials, wifi hotspots, books and building maintenance. It is also covering an online public access catalogue for all 104 city libraries. This new system is accessible on any device with internet access and will allow users to see the whole library collection, across all branches.

Although all libraries will receive some of the library budget, the City does not have enough money to build libraries for all the communities that need them. Some suburbs such Nyanga or Delft have one or two libraries for tens of thousands of residents, whereas wealthier areas like Camps Bay have one library for a population of about 5,000.

Communities that especially need more libraries are harder to provide for as there are very often no buildings which can be renovated and turned into libraries. Libraries such as Dunoon’s are built from scratch.

“An investment like Dunoon is very expensive because you’re not building in part of a complex or an existing structure … You also need to build underground sewerage and electricity,” says Mayoral Committee Member JP Smith.

Smith said the City is trying to improve the quality of existing libraries by buying e-readers for patrons to use, providing more books for young children and teens, and fixing water damage and adding toilets.

“Libraries are at the heart of our communities. They provide invaluable resources, encourage knowledge and support learning. The money spent on these facilities is an investment in the education and empowerment of communities,” said Smith.

GroundUp spoke to avid library user Annah Chibondo, a grade 12 Rhodes High School learner, who uses the Central Library in Cape Town. It is a safe and quiet space for her to study. She said she studies here almost every weekend. Chibondo, who loves romance and comedy books and movies, hopes to study medicine after secondary school.

Makhi Mkhetho, a hip-hop artist, goes to the Khayelitsha Library, not for books but for beats. He sources new material, sends out emails and promotes himself and his new mixtape – When Days are Dark – thanks to the facilities provided by the library.

“I am working on my mixtape so I’m collecting beats and contacting other producers in Cape Town,” Mkhetho told GroundUp. By using the library computers, Mkhetho, known as Kideo on stage, is able to pursue his dreams.

Many learners and students study in the quiet and safety of the Central Library in Cape Town. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.


Sika, Burkard family and Saint‐Gobain find overall agreement

6 days 11 hours ago
Sika, the Burkard family and Saint‐Gobain have signed agreements which terminate and resolve their legal dispute

Sika and Saint‐Gobain will continue their substantial existing business relationship and seek to further expand it to areas of mutual benefit while preserving and respecting each group’s economic and legal independence.

Sika, the Burkard family and Saint‐Gobain have signed agreements which terminate and resolve their dispute to the common benefit of all parties involved and that of their respective shareholders and stakeholders. The following has been agreed:

Saint‐Gobain acquired SWH – Sika acquired registered shares representing 6.97% of Sika’s share capital

Saint‐Gobain acquired all outstanding shares of SWH from the Burkard family for a purchase price of CHF 3.22 billion. It reflects an increase of above CHF 500 million from the purchase price agreed in December 2014 between Saint‐Gobain and the Burkard Family, taking into account the increase in Sika’s value since 2014. Sika purchased a 6.97% stake in Sika from SWH (representing a 23.7% voting interest) for a total consideration of CHF 2.08 billion. This amount contains a CHF 795 million premium over the market value as of May 4, 2018.

Termination of litigation, special audit, special experts

All pending litigation will be terminated. Furthermore, it is intended to propose to the shareholders of Sika to terminate the mandate of the Special Experts.

Introduction “one‐share, one‐vote”

Sika will call for an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting (EGM) for June 11, 2018 and will propose to:

  • cancel the 6.97% shares acquired from SWH by way of capital reduction
  • convert all shares into a single class of registered shares (“one share, one vote”) in a ratio 1:60 (bearer share based)
  • eliminate the 5% transfer restrictions
  • eliminate the opting‐out clause

SWH, fully owned by Saint‐Gobain at the time of the EGM, will vote in favour of all resolutions. Urs F. Burkard, Jürgen Tinggren and Willi Leimer have resigned from the board of directors of Sika. All independent directors will continue to serve the company and in time will seek to strengthen the board with new appointees.

Future relationship between Saint‐Gobain and Sika

The future relationship between Saint‐Gobain and Sika will be on both the shareholder and the business levels:

Saint‐Gobain will become a shareholder of Sika through SWH. After the EGM it will hold 10.75% of votes and capital interest in Sika. The parties have agreed on lock‐up (two years) and standstill obligations (up to 10.75% for four years, up to 12.875% for the following two years) with regard to Saint‐Gobain’s stake in Sika. In case of an intended sale, these shares will first be offered to Sika up to 10.75%.

The two groups will also continue their substantial existing business relationship and seek to further expand it to areas of mutual benefit while preserving and respecting each group’s economic and legal independence.

Sika will fund this transaction through a bridge loan committed by UBS. Subsequently, Sika intends to optimize its capital structure through the issuance of debt and debt‐like securities, while maintaining both the investment grade rating as well as the financial flexibility to fund the defined growth strategy of the company.

Paul Hälg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sika and Paul Schuler, CEO of Sika: “The Board and Group Management of Sika welcome this positive outcome. This solution is immediately accretive for our shareholders and paves the way for a new chapter of our success story. Sika remains committed to a strong S&P investment grade credit rating. The introduction of a modern governance structure will provide Sika with a solid base to accelerate its growth. The biggest thanks go to all our employees who with their dedication and loyalty made the great success of Sika and this solution possible.”

Urs F. Burkard, spokesman for the Burkard family: “We are pleased that Saint‐Gobain, as a significant Sika customer, is now the company’s largest shareholder. The solution agreed between the parties involved takes into account the interests of all shareholders and forms the basis for continuing Sika’s success story. The primary concern of the family has always been to ensure Sika’s success and long‐term prosperity.”

Pierre André de Chalendar, Chairman and CEO of Saint‐Gobain: “This is a very positive settlement for Saint‐Gobain, both from a financial and a strategic perspective. We materialize a substantial positive net result in excess of EUR 600 million for our shareholders. We also retain a minority stake in a great company and will enhance the relationship between the two groups.”

The post SIKA, BURKARD FAMILY AND SAINT‐GOBAIN FIND OVERALL AGREEMENT appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Thorsten Deckler speaks at the 31st Corobrik Architectural Awards.

6 days 11 hours ago
Thorsten Deckler invites young architects to put themselves on the map at the 31st Corobrik Architectural Awards.

Thorsten Deckler, co-founder of Johannesburg-based 26’10 South Architects, was the keynote speaker at the recent 31st Corobrik Architectural Awards.

Thorsten Deckler, co-founder of Johannesburg-based 26’10 South Architects, was the keynote speaker at the recent 31st Corobrik Architectural Awards. Deckler, who worked for Rem Koolhaas in the Netherlands and for Peter Rich Architects in Johannesburg before starting his own practice, Anne Graupner, is known for engaging in a range of projects in townships, the inner city and the periphery of the city.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, he considered passion, purpose and making your own map. “Never before has it been easier to ‘put your name on this map,’ and never before has the moment been more fleeting. What is a feast is also a famine and in a profession like architecture, which is in many respects super slow, rich in complexity and meaning, we often just skim the surface,” he said, referencing today’s instant gratification culture and the ephemeral nature of social media.

He discussed the first project which 26’10 South Architects ever undertook, and how it was a “spectacular failure.” In the absence of a budget and local capacity to re-build the famous Sans Souci Cinema in Soweto, Johannesburg, the content rather than the container was realised. The cinema opened in 1948 but destroyed in a fire in 1994 and subsequently pillaged for building materials for the nearby houses, resulting in an evocative ruin used as an informal public space by the local youth. “Our brief from the Kliptown Our Town Trust was to re-imagine the Sans Souci as a cultural public space,” said Deckler.

Although the practice’s dream project didn’t work out as they had planned – the ruin eventually collapsed – by harnessing informal processes, and working with a multitude of role players, the architects found new ways in which to make positive and interactive public spaces. “Consequently, early on in our careers, we also had an acute understanding of the complexity of architecture,” he explained. A film festival, dance outreach project and several performances were some of the initiatives held on the site, curated together with the community and employing the ruin as an urban armature.

As is the case with many of today’s top architects, Deckler admits that he didn’t always get it right. “The times which I failed were really awful, but I learnt a lot from my mistakes,” but he implored the young architects in attendance to “help make the world a better place,” and to “get into telling the stories of how we make the built environment, because it really is not an easy thing to do.”

With his unconventional storytelling and riffing of the theme of the event: ‘Put Your name on the Map’, Deckler inspired the audience to create their own ‘map’. He asked, “How do you as graduates, now that you are on the map, even if just for a bit, use this opportunity to strike out in your careers? Knowing that this moment is fleeting. How do you connect beyond the boundaries of your discipline with the world at large? How do you create or recognize moments of connection around things that matter to people and you?” The map which this next generation constructs – each for themselves – should be constructed around the values each one holds dear.

Deckler was speaking prior to the announcement of the winner of this year’s Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award. Renée Minnaar from the University of Pretoria, walked away with the top honours and a cheque for R50 000 for her thesis, entitled, ‘Remediator – Restoring the dichotomous relationship between industry and nature through an urban eco-textile mill and dye house’. Minnaar impressed the judges with her insightful way of tackling quintessentially South African issues that cross generations and present compelling reasons to rethink the local built environment in South Africa.

He concluded his address by saying that this was his call to arms to the next generation of architects who will create extraordinary moments. “Some will be unpremeditated, born of frustration and even failure, but they will be inspired by purpose when you work on a map of your own creation.”


The post Thorsten Deckler speaks at the 31st Corobrik Architectural Awards. appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Paragon Architects awarded Level 1 B-BBEE accreditation

6 days 12 hours ago
Paragon Architects South Africa (PASA), part of the Paragon Group of architecture and interior architecture companies, has been awarded a Level 1 rating for 2018

PASA Director Thulani Sibande.

Paragon Architects South Africa (PASA), part of the Paragon Group of architecture and interior architecture companies, has been awarded a Level 1 rating for 2018, in accordance with the Construction Sector Code issued under Section 9(1) of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act No. 53 of 2003.

The latest accreditation was verified by Siyandisa Verification Services, PASA Director Thulani Sibande confirms. Reviewed on a yearly basis, it reflects PASA’s ongoing transformation and development in the key areas of ownership, skills development, and preferential procurement and supplier development.

“It is going to be a good year. We have never had so many enquiries,” Sibande comments. He attributes the uptick due to an improved political and economic environment, which has resulted in renewed confidence in the South African construction industry in particular.

The Paragon Group, with the assistance of PASA, has been streamlined to take maximum advantage of the current situation, with the latest accreditation playing a major role in positioning itself as a market leader. “This is a major achievement for a company of our size. With some of the larger players struggling to retain traction, we have achieved a critical mass that has allowed our expansion and growth to continue apace,” Sibande elaborates.

The achievement is a reflection of the culture of inclusivity at the Paragon group, which strives continuously to set a new benchmark for the industry and the country as a whole. “It is definitely a team effort. There is no doubt about that. I am very happy we are able to make our own ongoing contribution to meaningful improvement in the lives of the previously-disadvantaged,” Sibande affirms.

For example, the Paragon Group has committed to funding five bursaries for 2018 as part of its skills development programme. It forms part of its larger obligation of contributing a certain percentage of its annual turnover to such initiatives. “Many companies see B-BBEE as an added expense, rather than as a business imperative.”

Level 1 is a “no-brainer” in terms of maximising business opportunities. “It also plays a critical role in motivating those clients that are not as confident about their own empowerment status to become part of this process.” Beyond South Africa, it will also give PASA invaluable experience in dealing with the specific empowerment requirements of other countries in which it has secured projects.

In terms of future goals, Sibande points to the ongoing upskilling and motivation of existing staff, especially as the Paragon Group continues to secure more work as a result of its reinvigorated market presence. “We have to ensure that, going forward, we do not drop the ball if we are suddenly awarded a slew of major projects. We have to ensure we are able to deliver at the same level of excellence we have always been proud to deliver. We must leverage off our new rating, and realise the opportunities this presents us,” he concludes.


The post Paragon Architects awarded Level 1 B-BBEE accreditation appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Architect’s Gallery at Design Joburg

6 days 12 hours ago
Design Joburg, featuring Rooms on View, is thrilled to announce the Architect’s Gallery, a curated showcase some of SA’s finest architectural projects.

Johannesburg Council Chamber by StudioMAS

Design Joburg, featuring Rooms on View, is thrilled to announce the Architect’s Gallery. This highly considered feature will be curated by eminent Joburg architect, designer and artist Shaun Gaylard of Blank Ink. The Architect’s Gallery will showcase some of SA’s finest architectural projects from a selection of leading architectural minds.

“Architecture and objets d’art form not only the background of our lives but, if designed well, intrinsically form part of the emotional and aesthetic experience of our spaces,” says Gaylard, who will be using this thinking to inform his execution of this central feature at the show.

Visitors can expect to be immersed in groundbreaking architectural projects that include both commercial and residential, presented in a printed format, as well as some displays of 3-D models. This will all be arranged in a considered yet minimalist gallery-type exhibit that will give some special insights into each project.

Shaun Gaylard’s vision for the display includes a bespoke carpet created using an urban plan drawing by architectural firm StudioMAS and crafted by Belgotex. Bespoke furniture for the feature will be courtesy of Pretoria based multi-disciplinary design studio Luvarre. The displays will be enhanced using lighting by Streamlight whilst the bespoke printing for the feature is by Silvertone International.

The list of architectural studios exhibiting are:

  • Boogertman & Partners
  • Osmond Lange
  • Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens
  • W Design Architecture Studio
  • StudioMAS

Design Joburg takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre, from 25 – 27 May 2018.

The post Architect’s Gallery at Design Joburg appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Thousands march in solidarity with Palestine

6 days 21 hours ago
“I stand here as a Jewish South African to say to Israel: ‘Enough! Enough shooting unarmed protesters!’”

By Aidan Jones, Annie Cebulski and Joseph Chirume

15 May 2018

Photo of a woman in front of a large Palestinian flag
Aqeelah Abrahams from Cape Town holds up a peace sign during a march in solidarity with Palestinians outside Parliament. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

There were protests in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg on Tuesday after Israeli soldiers killed over 50 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Monday. The Gaza protests were against the moving of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“The South African government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border,” said a statement issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. It said the military action was “yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict”.

The statement announced the withdrawal of South Africa’s ambassador in Israel, Sisa Ngombane, “with immediate effect until further notice”. It called the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem “provocative”.

David Sacks, associate director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies called Ngombane’s withdrawal “a regrettable knee-jerk reaction to a tragic situation”. Sacks said the decision would only prevent South Africa from “playing any constructive role in resolving the conflict”.

Palestine solidarity organisation BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) welcomed Ngombane’s recall, as did the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. BDS also called for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador in South Africa, downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office, and for the South African government to lead an international arms embargo against Israel.

Thousands march in support of Palestine in Cape Town. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Thousands marched from Keizersgracht Street to Parliament in Cape Town to show solidarity with Palestinians. The crowd sang “Forward we shall march to a free Palestine” and “Down, Trump, Down”.

The police escorted the march and blocked off traffic. Supporters lined the road to Parliament with many joining in the procession. Marchers carried two cardboard coffins draped in the Palestinian flag to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Gaza conflict on Monday.

Members of the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), the Muslim Judicial Council, Al Quds Foundation, and the South African Jews for Palestine (SAJP), among other groups, marched to hand over a memorandum to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

“COSATU supports the struggle for a free Palestine because the atrocities in Gaza are completely unacceptable,” said Tony Ehrenreich. “We must take decisive action against Israel through boycotts, UN sanctions – all of these things that brought apartheid down.”

“Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians,” said Mandla Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, quoting his grandfather Nelson Mandela.

This is an English translation of an advert placed by an Israeli organisation called Breaking the Silence in Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest circulation newspaper in Israel, on Tuesday morning. Breaking the Silence regularly publishes soldiers’ testimonies describing human rights violations. The Israeli government has tried to stop foreign funding to Breaking the Silence. The Israeli Minister of Education has also introduced a law that if passed will prevent Breaking the Silence from various activities including doing educational activities in schools.

The march drew a diverse group of religious figures who called on the crowd to come together and fight “the apartheid Israeli government”. Jewish, Anglican, Catholic, and Muslim speakers included Reverend Edwin Arrison, Heidi Grunebaum for SAJP, and a statement from the Archbishop of Cape Town was read out.

“I stand here as a Jewish South African to say to Israel … Enough shooting unarmed protesters,” said Grunebaum, spokesperson for SAJP.

Some school groups brought students who wished to participate in the march, such as the Darul Arqam Islamic High School, a predominantly Muslim school.

Members of the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance of South Africa picket at the city hall in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Sheikh Shamiel Panda of the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance of South Africa addressed about 40 protesters gathered at the city hall in Port Elizabeth.

“We are here to pray for the total liberation of the Palestinian people,” said Panda. “Our humble prayers be with the people of Palestine who are being killed everyday by the Israeli soldiers.”

Ismail Abdullah, another member of the organisation who attended the Port Elizabeth protest, said he had just returned from a pilgrimage trip to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. “It was disheartening to see Palestinians being afraid to talk to us,” said Abdullah. “They were afraid of retribution by the Israeli soldiers who destroy houses of residents who talk to foreigners.”

Themba Xathula, ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality regional secretary, said, “As the ANC, we are resolute that the people of Palestine should be free and allowed to run and decide their affairs.”

Ismail Hendricks holds his one-year-old son, Abdul Muheimin, on his shoulders during the march in Cape Town in support of Palestine. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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1 hour 17 minutes ago
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