The business community of Shallcross outside Durban met with the leaders of the Bottlebrush Informal Settlement, the deputy mayor of eThekwini, municipal officials, civic leaders, senior police officers, representatives of the community policing forum and anti-crime activists to discuss safety, security and service delivery recently.

(Back) Moosa Akoodie (Oasis), Ahmed Badat (Checkers), Cliff Crouse (Oasis), Jakes Singh (Chatsworth Community Policing Forum) and Brigadier James (SAPS).
(Front) Yusuf Abramjee (social activist), Nazeem Ebrahim (Oasis), Alderlady Fawzia Peer (deputy mayor), Senior Superintendent van Heerden (Durban Metro Police Services) and Falakhe Mhlongo (ANC)

The meeting was hosted by the Oasis Group, owners of The Ridge@ Shallcross. The deputy chairperson of Oasis, Nazeem Ebrahim, said that the issues affecting residents of the informal settlement had to be addressed ‘with urgency’. He added that some of the problems included poor lighting, lack of police visibility, dumping of refuse, and protest action against the lack of service delivery which contributed to the false perception that the area is not safe.

Ebrahim said that the mall is extremely safe and not a single robbery or theft of vehicles was reported over the past few years. “We pride ourselves on providing our shoppers with top security. The business community had to form partnerships at all levels to assist in developing communities and creating safer neighbourhoods. We need to work together as community members and that requires that we also stand together to ensure that everyone has access to basic services. We have co-existed next to Bottlebrush for a number of years and they, together with the residents in the surrounding areas, are our shoppers and we value them. Living in an informal settlement does not mean you are associated with crime, and we need to dispel these references and move away from giving each other these labels.”

He added, “We are all part of the community and all of us want a safe environment and where one part of our community is affected, we all need to step in and help them.”

Lucky Zulu, one of the lea ders of Bottlebrush, echoed Ebrahimís sentiments saying that the mall and the community have an inter-dependant relationship and cooperation is an imperative. Deputy mayor of eThekwini, councillor Fawzia Peer, said that the issues raised by the community were being addressed. The Ridge @ Shallcross has offered her department the installation of CCTV cameras to monitor the area which Peer welcomed and appreciated. “Patrollers along the road are an option and we are looking at it, a call was also made for a pedestrian bridge.

The municipality undertook to explore it,” said Peer. The municipality said that high-rise electricity masts are to be erected in the informal settlement. The electrification of the area will also start in phases. Residents called for more police visibility along the Link Road.

The Community Police Forum and the SAPS undertook to finalise a programme. Elvis Govender, chairman of the Moorten Chatsworth Community Policing Forum, said, “Service delivery by the municipality needs to be prioritised in the provision of waste removal facilities and services.”

Falakhe Mhlongo, secretary of the Ward Committee, agreed that having a dedicated bin collection space be considered and that he would engage the Bottlebrush community to relocate some of the informal dwellings to enable services by the municipality. Social activist, Yusuf Abramjee, said, “It was necessary for all sectors of society to work together. We have to promote social cohesion. We also agreed to look at ways of assisting the ëBottle Brushí community with social programmes.”

Abramjee appealed to residents to use the Namola / Dial Direct Safety App to report crime. It can be downloaded for free and use to report illegal electricity connections.