2 minute read| Shoneez Bubbulia
Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda visited Lenasia unexpectedly Saturday morning during the cleanup campaign on 12 August. The operation was arranged by Ward 9 councillor Imraan Moosa, ward committee members and various entities from the City of Johannesburg.
A handful of residents from Lenasia together with parolees who are ‘conditioned to community service’, started cleaning on Duiker Street near the Lenasia Police Station and on the R554 Nirvana Drive.
Equipped with gloves, bin bags and tongs, they
disposed of filth heaped on public spaces across businesses near the Lenasia Police Station
where vagrants live.
Participants of the campaign for the cleanup of the Lenasia central business district and Avalon Cemetery included Pikitup, SAPS, correctional services and
Vagrants including youngsters from Eldorado Park, staying in the makeshift houses had to move their blankets and personal belongings. They complained as rubble, stones, boxes, plastics and rubbish were cleared.
Ward committee member Jakes Karolia said they had notified the vagrants of the cleanup. “We clean up these spaces once a week. This is not a place to stay. We provided them with shelter, food and clothing but they refuse to go so the only way is to remove the rubble they sleeping in.”
Karolia said the area was
‘ a high risk, with prostitution, crime and drug trafficking taking place.’
Shopkeeper Bivek Pavaday whose dad owns a store nearby for more than 30 years, said the vagrants use the corners of their buildings as toilet facilities and shopkeepers are forced to clean up daily before opening business.
“We wait for them to move their makeshift beds in the mornings.
One woman also had a baby on one of the properties in the area. They vandalised the building next door, broke into our store, broke windows, and even start street fights amongst themselves using weapons.”
Pavaday said the vagrants were a threat to their business and he was excited to see the cleanup. ” We are very grateful to the councillor, but are afraid these people will be back in no time.”
Speaking about solutions to the ongoing problems, the mayor said his office was looking at a more preventative approach to the problems facing various CBDS. ”
Karolia said the homeless would be provided with accommodation. If they return to the area, Karolia said: “We need to keep Lenasia safe and will bring in the necessary entities we working with and law enforcement agencies and do this operation continuously, so we hopefully don’t have this issue again.”
Pikitup also cleaned up the Lenasia CBD popularly known as top shops, while other entities went to the Avalon cemetery.
Mayor Gwamanda thanked Lenasians for being proactive “in attending to the social ills facing the community. I understand we as government are taking a bit of time to respond to some of the critical issues you facing.” The mayor assured residents that the City of Johannesburg was going to “acquiring the resources required to respond to the challenges they are facing and that they will work hand in hand to assist.”
While on his drive about with the mayor, councillor Moosa also addressed issues affecting the community, like the ongoing power outages following load shedding, the problems with burst water piping and the dangers faces by the public by open holes left during the repiping operation.