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Monday, 27 July 2015

A 16-year-old Camps Bay High pupil has become the latest victim of a series of deadly attacks that have rocked the Hout Bay township of Imizamo Yethu

Cape Town - A 16-year-old Camps Bay High pupil has become the latest victim of a series of deadly attacks that have rocked the Hout Bay township of Imizamo Yethu.
Kwekwe Ngetu was outspoken and well-liked, a keen artist with ambitions of becoming a lawyer, but on Saturday night his life was cut short.

His school’s principal David de Korte told the Cape Argus the circumstances surrounding his death were still unclear. It is suspected that a knife-wielding gang of youths which has been terrorising the informal settlement was behind the attack which left two dead and one injured.
De Korte said the Grade 10 pupil had gone to buy electricity when he was attacked. The township’s community policing forum’s deputy chairperson Vincent Sodlala said Kwekwe had been walking with a 22-year-old man, identified by his employer as Zuko Roji, who was also killed in the stabbing attack.
Roji worked at the Vida e Caffe on Chapman’s Peak Drive for two years. A dark cloud was hanging over the business on Monday morning as family and staff struggled to come to terms with Roji’s brutal murder.
It was reported that a woman was also stabbed during the attack and was receiving treatment in hospital. However, police did not confirm this.
At Camps Bay High School, staff broke the grim news to students at an assembly on Monday morning. De Korte said some pupils cried; others asked if they could post a picture of the murdered student in the school’s foyer.
According to the principal, Kwekwe’s mother had died when he was still young. His father is living in the Eastern Cape and the only contact the school has is for Kwekwe’s social worker.
The stabbings have been followed by calls to demolish a derelict city-owned building in Hout Bay dubbed the “White House” which residents believe has become a magnet for crime.
Nchikala Ngoy, 27, was stabbed to death close to the building, which is on the main road next to Imizamo Yethu, earlier this month and some residents believe that the suspects “used the house as a hiding place”.
Samkelo Krweqe, of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), said when Ngoy was killed next to the White House there was a feeling that even more suspects were using the house for criminal activities.
“As a community, we have come together to put a motion to the city to demolish the house. We believe if it’s demolished it will go a long way in ending crime,” he said.
Hout Bay Civic Association’s Roscoe Jacobs said crime transcended all barriers and that as residents they were united in fighting crime. He said the association hoped that the city council acted on its plea.
“On Wednesday, a motion will be tabled at the City of Cape Town’s full council meeting for the demolition of the infamous White House. This property has become a symbol and concrete catalyst in the spiralling crisis of crime in Hout Bay of late.”
Jacobs said the broader community had sent a clear message, since 2011, on its stance over the “problem building”.
He said the community is therefore unanimous in its hope that the motion will be passed and a date for the demolition will be given by the city.
“We are aware that the demolition of the White House might not put an immediate end to the crime crisis, but we believe it will send a clear message to criminals that lawlessness will not be tolerated in our community.”
The city council’s mayco member for Transport, Brett Herron, said the demolition of the White House would take place as soon as possible.
“It will cost about R30 000 to demolish, and no decision has been made about the future use of the site. We will have to consider whether we have a need for it.”
The council’s mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, said a decision to demolish the White House had already been approved.
Cape Argus

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Clifton property development alarms residents

Cape Argus: Tuesday 19 May 2015
Plans for the sale of prime municipal land in Clifton – including the sites of the Glen Country Club and Bungalow restaurant – to a private sector developer are at an "advanced stage", but there will still be opportunities for affected communities to comment before a tender process is finalised.
The city wants to sell or lease portions of four erven in Clifton for an underground parking garage, a residential village with a boutique hotel and a commercial space with an anchor retail tenant, while also mooting upgrades to recreational and sport facilities in the area.
But the project has been slammed by residents and lobby groups in the area who are concerned that the proposed developments could be detrimental to Clifton.
Janey Ball of action group Clifton Organised said the draft conceptual framework published in February was somewhat vague. Soon after the deadline for submissions on April 4, a full mayoral committee meeting was convened on site on Friday.
"It seems clear that this development process is being driven through the corridors of the city with great haste and it is extremely worrying that council, at this early stage, is being asked, at month-end, to grant inprinciple approval for the sale of certain portions of the land."
Ball said the "impetus" for the development was the refurbishment of the garages at Clifton. But now residents are being asked to consider a development that will include 40 bungalows, 880 parking bays and a boutique hotel on the legally protected Clifton Scenic Reserve. "The approach we are taking is in no way intended to be obstructive nor are we anti-development. We simply wish to be part of a transparent process that considers all inputs. "We are also mindful of the privileged position our community enjoys and mindful too of the city's need to optimise returns on all possible investments. Accordingly we are committed to working with the city to achieve a 'win-win' situation from which all parties can emerge content," said Ball.
During the public participation process earlier this year, objectors complained that the proposed sale of this prime Atlantic Seaboard land would deprive residents of the free use of this valuable coastal asset. There were also concerns about the impact of the development on a protected heritage site.
Many of the 90 comments lodged during this public comment period related to whether the city had followed proper planning processes.
One resident noted: "Why is the mayor fast-tracking and driving the sale of land used freely and for over a century by families from across the Cape Peninsula for the benefit of a private developer who is behind the scenes and unnamed?"
The Bungalow Owners' Association said on its website: "We believe the statutory process has not been properly followed – except for the Municipal Finance Management Act 56/2003 and the council's bylaw relating to the Management and Administration of the City of Cape Town's Immovable Property published on February 28, 2003 Section 4 – no feasibility studies have been carried out, and no market research conducted as yet. The reported land values are, in our opinion, completely understated."
Another objector said: "It would be a short-term, completely unsustainable project which would ruin the long-standing attractiveness, sustainability and tourism in one of the most popular and beautiful areas in our country."
There were also concerns about traffic congestion in the area.
But speaking at yesterday's Subcouncil 16 meeting, Clifton's ward councillor Jacques Weber took pains to assure affected residents and other associations that their concerns would be considered before any plans were finalised.
"This is just one of a few stages of public participation. Development in this area is needed and welcomed."
Subcouncil chair Demetri Qually said: "This is a major development that will require the creative and participative involvement of all stakeholders. People don't want to see a significant asset disappear."
The erven in question are currently being used by restaurants and sports clubs, and as parking lots. One of these establishments is the Glen Country Club, which the city has described as a "run-down eyesore in this prestigious coastal precinct".
In the report considered at the subcouncil meeting, Neil Eybers of the city's finance directorate said the precinct upgrade project had initially focused on the redevelopment of the Clifton garages located next to the public parking area for Clifton's fourth beach.
But this "footprint" was expanded following an internal decision that the whole precinct would benefit from an upgrade that would inject "much-needed investment" into the area. This decision forms the basis of the draft development framework.
"Other problems and challenges in the precinct relate to safety and security, limited public access to the coast, insufficient parking for visitors to the area, the lack of a precinct identity and opportunities for further private sector investment," said Eybers.
The sale or lease of the land will be done through a competitive process and the successful bidder or bidders will have to work within the approved design framework.
Portions of the residential properties will be sold, while the management of the sports facilities will remain the responsibility of the clubs, he said.
The report referred to the "rationalisation" of the active recreational facilities in the precinct, including the potential development of a covered bowls green, and upgrades to the cricket oval and tennis courts, Maiden's Cove picnic area and the inclusion of a walkway along the coastal edge. The project will possibly include the relocation of the Bungalow restaurant, formerly known as La Med.
Eybers said all other city policies, such as the scenic drive policy, would be considered during the approval process, and residents would again have an opportunity to comment.
The city would also invite affected parties to comment on an updated map and plan for the area in the next 10 days.
Once council has approved the sale or lease of the properties, the urban design framework will be presented to affected parties for comment. When this is finalised, the city will call for tenders for the sale, lease or development of the facilities in accordance with the design framework. The successful bidder will need to get the necessary statutory approvals for the developments.
Eybers said the council would derive "significant financial benefit" in the form of the sales price and lease income, as well as the rates and taxes. It's been reported that the sale could be worth about R100 million. The council-owned garages will be redeveloped by the private sector at no cost to the city.

This article can be found at http://gctca.org.za/clifton-property-development-alarms-residents/

CCT sewerage : The report that caused the stink

The City of Cape Town operates marine outfalls that discharge sewerage (amongst other things) from the shoreline, where the effluent is supposedly safely dispersed away from the coast. The City of Cape Town has applied for a permit, as per national requirement. The public have been asked to comment on this application.

All sewage ends up back in the environment (from which its constituents came), by any of several routes. A basic distinction in its route is whether it undergoes sewage treatment to mitigate its effect on the environment before arriving there.

An example is the sewerage works in Hout Bay, a simple installation which merely attempts to sift all kinds of nasties out like nappies, cement bags, telephone book paper, rags, multiple types of plastic, rats, foetuses and the mass of all manner of throw-away waste streams, including the substance it is supposed to handle – raw basic sewerage. Being a basic reception station, not a true and proper waste-water-works in the modern day acceptable sense, the local sewerage plant just tries to screen out the majority of this before pumping the raw sewage et al directly into the coastal waters.

The cleanliness and safety of Cape Town’s waters has again come into question after aerial photographs of sewage plumes off Green Point, Camps Bay and Hout Bay appeared on social media.

The following investigative report titled ‘City Stink Story’ is republished with the kind permission of Wavescape, the original source.

The report copy follows below:

Published by Wavescape Saturday, 27 June 2015

Every year, when the offshore southeast winds switch to onshore winter westerlies, Cape Town’s citizenry cry foul and her civil servants get defensive as smelly chum slicks waft towards the shoreline, allegedly from three deep-water marine outfalls off the coast.

But there is a new sense of urgency this year. The city has burgeoned to 3.8 million or more citizens, who must all bath, wash clothes and dishes, and flush away those numbers one and two. After all, we all need to poo. Loadshedding has not helped, with unsubstantiated reports of sewage overflow leaking into drains and rivers when the pumps shut down and the poop keeps on coming.


Photographed June 2015: looks like poop floating off Green Point. Photo: Karen Watkins


Recent media coverage and a public outcry - particularly after aerial shots of large plumes by local marine photographer Jean Tresfon - appear to have prompted the City Council to check its paperwork, only to find that the outdated Department of Waste and Sanitation (DWS) licences governing the outflow are not in compliance with the Integrated Coastal Management Act (ICMA) of 2009.

This Act states that “no person is allowed to discharge effluent from sources on land into coastal water except in terms of … a Coastal Waters Discharge Permit”.

So this application to “discharge effluent into the coastal waters” of Cape Town, including Marine Protected Areas, was lodged and a mandatory public participation period announced. You may recall a small advert in the Weekend Argus newspaper 13 days ago. The process runs from 1 June to 10 July.

Public comment has been fierce. People are angry. As a result, in a statement issued on Tuesday by the “Integrated Communication, Branding and Marketing Department”, the City of Cape Town moved to correct “misconceptions” and “clear up confusions” about the permit application.

The photo that caused the fuss: the Green Point outfall. Photo: Jean Tresfon




What a sewage outfall looks like: Delray Beach, Florida, USA. Photo: Marine Photo Bank


The City said it was incorrect that the outfalls were running illegally. The “necessary licences and permits for these outfalls have been in place for the past 30 years; this new process is simply the City bringing operations in line with the new regulatory framework”.

The current (outdated) DWS licences allow the discharge of effluent into coastal waters at four locations - Hout Bay, Camps Bay, Green Point and Robben Island. However, in each case, the legally allowed volume falls considerably short of the maximum output the pipes were designed for. Has population pressure already forced the flow to increase towards capacity? It's not easy to control the sphincter when the push is on.

Poop floating off Green Point. Photo Karen Watkins
Off Hout Bay, the outfall is designed to discharge 9.8 million litres daily (Ml/d) at a depth of 39 metres 2,162 metres from shore. However, its DWS licence allows for 5.2 million litres. The Camps Bay pipe, which is 1,497 metres from shore, can output 5.5 million litres every day from its outfall 23 metres deep, but the licence stipulates a maximum of 2.3 million litres. Robben Island is tiny in comparison: a design capacity of 90,000 litres per day. There is no licence information for Robben Island, according to the info freely available on the City Council’s website here.

But these outfalls are nothing compared to the grandaddy of them all. This 800mm pipe (a diameter of almost a metre) juts into the ocean 1.7km from the coast at Green Point. This pipe can spew up to 40 million litres of effluent into the sea at a depth of 28 metres - every day. Servicing the waste generated by the urban sprawl from Woodstock to Bantry Bay - via the City Bowl, the harbour, Green Point and Sea Point - the DWS licence limits the outflow to 27.3 million litres per day. That's still a lot of poo if the City is in compliance with the current DWS licence.

Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, told me that the current discharge volumes at each outfall were: Hout Bay (5.2 million litres per day Ml/d from approximately 34,000 people); Green Point (30 Ml/d from approximately 164,000 people); and Camps Bay (2,5 Ml/d from approximately 22 000 people)."

"With regard to population pressure, the capacity of the infrastructure in an area is considered as part of the City planning process. Applications for new development will only be approved if infrastructure/licences allow for it," he said.

He said that the Discharge Permit would enable the City to run the outflow of all three outflows at maximum capacity but that "there is still capacity left before they reach the maximum".

Councillor Sonnenberg said that Llandudno and Miller’s Point were tested for water quality once a week and Green Point, Hout Bay and Camps Bay were tested daily.

Many people know that sewage is pumped into the sea around Cape Town. Surfers who have ridden Thermopylae in Green Point have all complained of e-coli sickness over the years, especially before the 1993 project to extend the pipe 1.7 km out to sea after a 1989 storm damaged it. Despite repeated denials from the City, who say people get sick from stormwater pollution and not from the outfalls, there are many ocean sports people who adamantly stand by their belief that it comes from sewage.

However, other people will remind you that coastlines all around the world are faced with this problem, from Sydney to Barcelona, and even New York.

But few realise that if the pipes around Cape Town are running at maximum capacity, 55 million litres of untreated effluent would pour into the ocean every single day. And by effluent, I don’t just mean sewage, but grey water. That means the water from your shower, your dishwasher, your sink, and your washing machine - everything that is flushed down plug holes, sinks, and drains.

Yes, the grey water dilutes the raw materials a bit. But poop is poop: untreated fecal matter direct from toilet to sea. Other elements are commonly found in grey water, such as paracetamol flushed out in urine (causes infertility in male mammals, including dolphins) or even oestrogen flushed out in the urine of women on the pill. Oestrogen released into rivers in the UK has resulted in fish being feminized - changing sex from male to female. See the story here

The City does screen the effluent, blocking the larger scatological remnants of the human sump, such as nappies and sanitary towels. In Tuesday’s statement, the City felt the need to educate the public because “fear surrounding this method derives from a lack of understanding surrounding outfall technology, thus we feel an explanation of the method is necessary”.

A diffusion system at the outfall exit “rapidly dilutes” the effluent to “at least a 100:1” (parts ocean water to effluent), which “instantly results in a very substantial contaminant reduction”. The rest is taken care of by currents and dispersion, the City says.

A press release from 2009 says the Green Point outfall got a R20million facelift (partly to cope with the expected influx of visitors to the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup). They replaced the screen with a 3mm stepped screen. Its role was to break down solid waste into tiny bits. They also replaced the “odour control system”.

Crap Slick: This photo shows a large spume off Hout Bay. Photo: Jean Tresfon


However, anecdotal evidence from kayakers, surfers and other ocean users suggest that the screening, diffusion and dispersion do not always work as designed.

There have been many posts on social media about pieces of crap found floating in Table Bay, and they are certainly bigger than screened scraps with a dimension of 3mm x 3mm. Recent sightings of the giant plumes provide a disturbing picture that volumes might be at their limit, and the sewage disposal strategy of the City should at the very least come under deeper scrutiny - certainly when it concerns efforts to find alternatives.

For instance, a question in the City’s application for Hout Bay’s discharge permit here asks “Do alternatives exist other than to discharge the effluent into the coastal environment?” The answer provided by Kevin Samson (Manager: Waste Water, Water and Sanitation Department) is "NO". The next question “If alternatives to discharge exist, please provide details:” the answer is "None".

There are scientists who might disagree, such as Leslie Petrik (PhD), Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at UWC. Professor Petrik has made ground-breaking strides with other scientists on using nanoscience and nanotechnology for environmental remediation. In her capacity as a specialist in water treatment, she recently wrote to the City urging it to reconsider the application for a Discharge Permit, and to “seriously recommend that other alternatives are sought”.

The City should read a paper she published with colleagues last year: “a review of combined advanced oxidation technologies for the removal of organic pollutants from water”. Read it on Research Gate.

For the past six years, she has independently set up the Environmental and Nano Science (ENS) group at UWC. Their work includes ways to disinfect contaminated effluent water and removal of organics through composite photocatalysts and electrohydraulic discharge systems. Read her biography on the UWC website here.

Her letter to the City warns that “persistent organic pollutants” not decomposed in conventional treatment plants “have very negative impacts on the receiving environment and are PROVED to cause feminization of fish populations, exterminating fish in one generation, as well as causing deformities, cancer and genetic changes in many species as well as humans”.

She said that their recent work (funded by the SA Water Research Commission) “has shown that many partially metabolised prescription drugs, pesticides, herbicides, household disinfectants and even paracetemol and caffeine are passing unchanged through the local effluent treatment systems in the Western Cape”.

“When you consider the volumes of these compounds being discharged into sewerage waste waters, we are confronting a huge environmental disaster of unforeseen magnitude.”

As an example, she writes that recent findings show that paracetamol taken for five days during pregnancy “will sterilize your male fetus”. Just like that.

“Can you imagine how much paracetamol is being released in our effluents on a daily basis?” she asked. The amounts of paracetamol had not been quantified, and yet the problem was clearly being ignored if a Discharge Permit was being sought, she writes.

Professor Petrik urged the City to “focus efforts and funds on designing and building proper treatment systems using combined systems, such as we are busy developing” that “made possible the reuse of the water.” She claimed that “severe water shortages” would occur in the coming years and efforts to prevent “the release of these harmful compounds and recover the water now will pay dividends in the future”.

Tresfon, an award-winning photographer and gyrocopter pilot known for his beautiful aerial shots of the Cape Peninsula, has been instrumental in generating public awareness to pressurise the council. Tresfon is at pains to say he is not an expert, but what he does know is this. He has been flying his Magni M16 Gyrocopter two or three times a week around the Cape Peninsula for years, taking photos of marine wildlife, including sharks, tuna, whales and big shoals of game fish.

While up there, he’s noticed and photographed vast plumes of brown or milky water seeping into the ocean off Green Point, Camps Bay and Hout Bay. He says the plumes are getting worse every year. He says that this year, it’s the worst it has ever been. “At Camps Bay, the effluent is washing right back at the shore.”

Recent experiences of ocean users suggest that the negative impact Professor Petrik speaks about is beginning to gather momentum.

Businessman Eddie Bisset, a keen kayaker, found this out at his peril. After doing an eskimo roll in Three Anchor Bay at the end of April, he got violently ill. Bisset, 62, owner of Herbex and New Group companies, didn’t take it lying down. With his attorney Fawn Gliddon, he has actively sought answers from the City and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

He even commissioned an e-coli test at Three Anchor Bay that returned a level of 300 cfu (colony forming unit) per 100ml of sea water. This is 50 over the limit of the maximum level for a Blue Flag beach, and that was on a much cleaner day with offshore breezes taking the sewage away from the coast.

Beached Poo: Camps Bay with apparent effluent right at the shore. Photo: Jean Tresfon

Kayaker Karen Watkins photographed what she has claimed is fecal matter last weekend while kayaking off Green Point. Tracy Fincham, who owns Kaskazi Kayaks in Three Anchor Bay, got sick at the same time of the year in 2014 after performing multiple eskimo rolls during a kayak. A fresh westerly wind was blowing. “I struggled a bit, so got water in my mouth and sinuses. I was very sick after that. I can’t say it was because of the sewage, but the water was very bad that day,” she said.
Tresfon knows it’s poo. As a pilot and competent boat skipper, Tresfon is familiar with navigation and marking waypoints via GPS co-ordinates. He knows the location of the plumes he has photographed. He knows the location of the outfalls. They match. He has also seen the plumes right at the shoreline.
In response to the photos and the public uproar, the city said in yesterday’s statement: “We can confidently state that our infrastructure is intact and that neither of the marine outfalls (Green Point and Hout Bay) experienced any major incidents to cause such a plume (as photographed by Tresfon - ed). Despite this, we will continue to assist in establishing what the cause of the plume was (for example, surface discharge from passing ships).”
Passing ships? Really?

The City said it had referred the photographs to the Department of Environmental Affairs, “as they are responsible for monitoring the quality of the marine zones. The City is assisting where possible to resolve the matter. From the City’s side, specialist diving teams inspected the outfalls in March and May 2015 and found no irregularities.”

Tresfon stands by his viewpoint, even though it is anecdotal. Repeated contact with the sewage, and not just from the air, but from exploration by boat and kayak, leaves him in little doubt.

“You can smell it a kilometre away already. When you get to it, it is utterly revolting.”

He relates an experience he had in March that he found deeply disturbing: “I joined an international team including the publisher and founder of Ocean Geographic, Michael AW, with a permit from the government to dive with a pod of Southern Right whales that are believed to be permanently resident in Cape Town waters (a first since the cessation of whaling in the mid 1970s), and to photograph and film them.

“There was a massive proliferation of krill, and the whales were feeding in among the vessels. Unfortunately, they were in the area of the Green Point outlet. We could smell it. We could see the outlet. There were turds drifting by our boat. It was highly embarrassing for me because I was trying to show off my city to world famous wildlife photographers.”

He relates examples of council playing down the sightings, or at the least questioning their veracity, possibly due to the potentially scary implications of how much it would cost to fix properly.

“On a day last month when the Table Bay plume was particularly bad I posted a photo to Facebook, which got picked up on Twitter and forwarded to 567CapeTalk Radio who contacted the City of Cape Town. The response was basically one of denial, suggesting it was not sewage because there were no seagulls in the picture. Well, I zoomed in on the high res photos, and there they were, huge flocks of seagulls.”

See the original post here.

“They can deny it all they like, but I know its sewage. Look, this city is the best run city in South Africa, and I am quite sorry to be taking them on like this. The City has done some amazing work in many fields, but they have drastically dropped the ball on this issue.”

“Ever since there has been media interest, not one person from the City has asked to talk to me, or to study my photos. That's concerning.”

This was why it was so critical that the public push hard over the next month to tip the scale on the side of public pressure versus the cost of the alternatives the city claims do not exist. “They mobilised the money and land to build a hugely expensive stadium for one event, why can’t they find a solution to this? And in 10 years time, when the ocean is screwed, what’s the cost then?”

“The first prize is to send comment that is not mere objection or outrage, but constructive pressure. Ask the hard questions.”

“I am not a sewage engineer and don’t have all the answers. However, I feel that to just continue as we are is completely unacceptable. Quite aside from the environmental implications of 55 million litres per day of effluent being pumped into our oceans, it is really not on to have the stuff bubbling to the surface and blowing back onto our beaches and coastline. Surfers, divers, kayakers and swimmers have been getting really sick. That’s a fact.

“I am just one photographer reporting what I see, but you have a huge community of watermen that could really be heard. The comment period is only open for another month and this is our one chance to make a difference. I have no doubt that the pumping is not going to stop if the City continues to claim there is no economically viable alternative.

“But this is 2015, there are some very new and exciting technologies out there for dealing with this. And if we cannot treat the sewage then we should be pumping it further away from the coast, or using tankers to dump it in the deep. Something needs to change. Huge exponential increases in the population of the city mean that the increased volumes of untreated effluent pumped into the sea are becoming unsustainable and are no longer environmentally acceptable."


Make your voice heard, but please do it constructively. 
Email Kevin.Samson@capetown.gov.za





The report can be found here:
http://www.wavescape.co.za/surf-news/breaking-news/city-stink-story.html

Friday, 10 July 2015

De Lille and the contentious Clifton Scenic Reserve megaproject

The genesis of the mayor's plan to build on coastal public space may lie with two businessmen.




Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is driving a campaign to put a sought-after stretch of Clifton’s public coastline into the hands of private developers, in the teeth of serious opposition from the city’s own officials and ratepayers.
The city’s proposed project, formally tabled in January and estimated by some residents to be worth about R1-billion, is now open to public comment and will include a competitive tender.

De Lille’s campaign follows on the heels of an unsolicited bid by a private consortium that involves two of her acquaintances: controversial businessperson Mark Willcox and property developer Tobie Mynhardt.
There is no evidence that there was anything improper about the way Mynhardt or Willcox have pursued the bid. However, the question that does emerge is whether De Lille’s personal relationships influenced her to back a potentially controversial plan rather than recognise a possible conflict of interest and stand back.
But De Lille denied that her personal relationships played a role, saying: “The process of releasing such property is prescribed by legislation, which we rigorously follow. This includes public participation and an open tender process for the Clifton land. Tender matters are evaluated outside of political influence.”
Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said a proposal to develop the site, submitted to him by Mynhardt in December 2013, “was not accepted”. But events show that within two months, the city was running with a plan very similar to Mynhardt’s.
At the time, one official claimed to have been “warned” not to oppose the development because it was considered “a mayoral project”. AmaBhungane cannot name the official, but has seen records from that time that reflect the view.
Willcox said he had been “a potential financier” for Mynhardt’s proposal and that he had never discussed the project with De Lille. In response to questions, he threatened to sue over what he called “unfounded and slanderous allegations”.
De Lille is the Western Cape leader of the Democratic Alliance, which rules both the city and the province. The city, which presents itself as a beacon of transparency and open governance, has withheld information requested by ama-Bhungane that could throw light on the genesis of the mayor’s plan for Clifton.
Last month it rejected amaBhu-ngane’s request made weeks earlier under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for the names of entities that have lodged bids for the Clifton site to be opened to them for development. It said this “would amount to unreasonable disclosure of personal information”.
AmaBhungane has independently sourced key details of the plan for Clifton. But the refusal of the Act’s application could have the effect of shielding the mayor’s personal relationships and the business interests of her acquaintances from public scrutiny.
Around dinner tables
Willcox is best known as ANC luminary Tokyo Sexwale’s right-hand man, dating back to 1998 when they formed the black empowerment vehicle Mvelaphanda Holdings.
Previously, amaBhungane has written about Willcox’s involvement in controversial mine and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involving Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s close friend Dan Gertler, President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma and Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley.
Approached for comment on the Clifton project, Willcox confirmed that he had been “a social friend of Mrs de Lille for over eight years” and that they enjoyed “social dinners” together.
De Lille attended Willcox’s wedding late last year, amaBhungane has established.
De Lille also confirmed the relationship, saying: “I have met him socially several times in the past few months.”
Some of these engagements were at Willcox’s Clifton home.
AmaBhungane also heard evidence that contradicted De Lille’s and Willcox’s versions that the dinner dates were all purely social (see below). Although there is no evidence that the Clifton upgrade was discussed, “the past few months” would have coincided with the city’s formal process for the project.
Social media searches also revealed a set of relationships between De Lille’s family and that of property developer Mynhardt. He is a Facebook friend of De Lille’s son Alistair de Lille, and Mynhardt’s daughter, a successful Cape Town singer, has more than once thanked De Lille on social media for her support.
Alistair de Lille refused to comment.
Patricia de Lille said: “My family knows Mr Mynhardt’s family.” She did not disclose this in an earlier response about Mynhardt’s bid to develop Clifton.
In contrast, Mynhardt’s lawyer, Rael Gootkin, said: “Neither [Mynhardt] nor his family have any familial relationship with Mrs De Lille or her family. Mr Mynhardt confirms that he has met Mrs De Lille in a social environment on occasion, in particular when Mr Mynhardt’s daughter was a finalist on Idols of 2014.”
Up for grabs
Wedged between the world-famous beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay lies the Clifton Scenic Reserve. It is a largely undeveloped area, flanked by 500m of road on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Open to the public, it offers stretches of indigenous coastal fynbos, bowling greens, tennis courts, a cricket oval, sprawling lawns and the tidal pools of Maiden’s Cove.
Over the festive season, the site is swamped with revellers who travel from across the city to enjoy easy access to an otherwise congested and exclusive coastline. The site has been designated a national monument for nearly 70 years and is a provincial heritage site.
In 2008, Clifton residents approached the city with a proposal: they would fix up the dilapidated municipal garages on the edge of the reserve and add new parking bays at their own cost. The proposed project would not extend beyond the garage site, already zoned for “special business”, into the reserve.
Ideas flowed back and forth. Minor commercial initiatives were mooted by the city’s consultants, such as a deli or a line of kiosks on the garage site.
In late 2010, the city published an advertisement for a public process to “establish a parking garage and related commercial development on the property and within its immediate surrounding area”. There were objections, and all went quiet again.
Lobbying
Three years later, in December 2013, Mynhardt’s proposal landed, unsolicited, on the desks of Neilson and city property manager AndrĂ© Human.
Gootkin, who also represents Willcox, said this “contemplated a development of approximately 700 parking bays and approximately 6?000m2 of commercial property”.
Visuals included in the proposal, which Gootkin showed amaBhu-ngane, depicted a strip mall and multilevel parking lot built across and beyond the existing bowling greens. The shopping complex would include “strip shops, restaurants and a medium-sized convenience food anchor”, the proposal stated.
The proposal represented a substantial expansion from the originally envisaged garage upgrade. And it extended well into the scenic reserve.
According to Gootkin, the city advised Mynhardt that such a plan would first require it to publish “a request for qualification, and thereafter a public participation process, culminating in an open advertised tender process”.
In early February last year, two months after Mynhardt submitted his proposal, residents reported that Human and two other city officials had been seen inspecting the site. Pressed for details, they explained to residents that they were considering a 750-bay parking garage, a Woolworths store and other shops, and possibly new bungalows.
The city’s expanded vision for the site was remarkably similar to that submitted by Mynhardt. This suggests that his proposal might have influenced the city to open the area, including the scenic reserve, to private development.
It was soon afterwards that the city official reported being “warned” not to oppose this “mayoral project”. And another official said that the project was now being “pushed forward”.
The city and De Lille deny favouring Mynhardt’s proposal, saying they have opened the development opportunity to public comment and that if it crosses that hurdle a competitive tender will be issued.
‘Railroading’
This year, a report was tabled in council calling for a public participation process that would allow the public to comment before a formal tender. The project had been “identified for the mayor’s strategic asset development initiative”, the report stated.
De Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, explained that this initiative was part of a broader plan to generate revenue for the city by putting public spaces into private hands for commercial development. Property management officials regularly report directly to De Lille on specific projects, including the Clifton proposal.
An “interim conceptual proposal” envisaged a multistorey parking garage of 750 bays and about 2?750m2 of commercial space “including an anchor retail tenant”.
While the commercial area was smaller, the description and an accompanying visual still suggested a strip mall similar to the one proposed by Mynhardt.
Last month, the DA-dominated city council swept through an “in-principle approval” for separate portions of the land to be sold and leased for the development.
This hit serious opposition.
Reflecting the concerns of many ratepayers, African Christian Democratic Party councillor Grant Haskin stood up to motivate for the process to be held over. He cited the lack of a property valuation and feasibility studies, vague information, and concerns about traffic congestion, sewage disposal and the land’s protected status.
Haskin said his sources in city departments had told him the process was not ready to go public and that officials had been “forced”.
They also told him that the city’s financial managers were “aware of shortcomings” in the process but had “determined it was ‘acceptable risk’ to force the public to take the city to court, [as] the city will be able to defend itself based on new information gained”.
Haskin called this “unacceptable arrogance”.
AmaBhungane has learned that a number of officials oppose aspects of the proposal but believe that their professional views are being trampled underfoot by senior managers and politicians who are keen to push the project forward.
Asked to respond, Neilson drew a distinction between “packaging the development envelope and associated rights” before going public and “involving all stakeholders at the outset in pursuing the most appropriate development outcome”.
He said the city had chosen the latter and that “issues of tactical approach and legislative compliance have been conflated” by critics.
ANC councillor Jeremiah Thuynsma said he had argued in council last month that poor Capetonians would be denied access to the beach, and asked De Lille whether her relationship with Willcox had anything to do with the plan.
Only last month the city’s architectural consultants presented diagrams for a bigger project than that proposed by Mynhardt or presented by the city early this year.
Influence?
In defence of Willcox and Mynhardt, Gootkin said “the city has decided to pursue a far more expanded development” than proposed by Mynhardt.
Gootkin said Willcox “had absolutely no involvement in advising or conceptualising the development proposed by the city in whatsoever form, nor has he discussed it with the mayor or any city official”.
In her own defence, De Lille said the city’s process “is for the good of the people of Cape Town [and] is a transparent and open one that is trying to find innovative sources of revenue”.

Cape Town’s mayor and her friends deny talking business at the dinner table

Up and down Victoria Road, tongues are wagging about Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s frequent kuiering at Mark Willcox’s home, an apartment with stunning views over the bay and direct access to Clifton First Beach.
Prying neighbours learned months ago that Willcox had an interest in plans to develop the Clifton Scenic Reserve. Surely this was why she was meeting him, they assumed.
Not so, said De Lille when first approached by amaBhungane: “These are two unrelated facts that are being pulled together to create a conspiracy.” They were “social meetings”, and she did not “discuss official business at such gatherings”, she said.
Willcox agreed. His lawyer Rael Gootkin said: “To equate social dinners with any relation to the Clifton expanded upgrade is … spurious and borders on the ludicrous.”
AmaBhungane has no evidence that Clifton was discussed, but it has heard reliable evidence that contradicts De Lille’s suggestion that she scrupulously avoids discussing city business.
For example, in at least one instance this year, mayoral committee member Garreth Bloor accompanied her to dine at Willcox’s residence. They were said to have been joined by an investor and the dinner table topic was a proposal for a Formula 1 Grand Prix to be held around the Green Point common and through the Cape Town stadium.
De Lille was evasive on whether this discussion took place: “I have discussed the F1 with numerous people but discussions do not lead to decisions.” She said legislative processes would be followed.
Bloor later confirmed the visit and topic: “I have been there with the mayor and discussed issues in the public domain, including the idea of an F1 in Cape Town.”
While the company and the subject matter might imply the meeting was more than just social, Bloor downplayed this. “As these [issues] have nothing to do with city decisions, they are merely regarded as informal conversations.”
AmaBhungane also heard that De Lille separately encouraged Willcox to donate to charitable causes around Cape Town. Asked about this, she said: “Mr Willcox is an extremely generous man. He has given anonymously to several charitable endeavours that I am aware of.”
But how did she know of Willcox’s charitable donations if they were anonymous?
And had she ever presented charitable items to Capetonians knowing that he had paid for them? If so, she might have derived political benefit from Willcox’s generosity – though there is no evidence that this occurred.
Her response to each question was puzzling. “Donations are anonymous in the public domain,” she said in an email.
Gootkin said: “The thinly veiled suggestion that [Willcox] made contributions to the mayor’s charities or her political party in return for the city favouring my client … is denied. This is defamatory not only of my client but also of the mayor.”
  On the question of direct political donations, De Lille was similarly unhelpful: “As the Mail & Guardian knows, my party [the Democratic Alliance] does not discuss who has, and who has not, contributed to political projects with donations.” 
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

City considering initial public input on Clifton proposals

MEDIA RELEASE
6 JULY 2015
STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE DEPUTY MAYOR, ALDERMAN IAN NEILSON
Over the past few weeks, the City of Cape Town has met extensively with interested and affected parties pertaining to its proposals for the revitalisation of City-owned properties in the Clifton area. These targeted engagements have been with a view to holding a larger public meeting about the City’s vision for this area, which will take place in due course.

The City has presented, to specific interested and affected parties, its proposed design vision for the City-owned land between the Clifton bungalows and Camps Bay which currently includes the Glen Country Club, Maiden’s Cove, a sports oval and the existing City-owned parking facility. This property is regarded by the City as being under-utilised and it provides somewhat limited access to the oceanfront for residents and visitors.

The City wishes to see the transformation of this area to make the beach, ocean and recreational facilities more accessible to all Capetonians, while protecting the natural vegetation; to enhance our local and international tourism potential; and to unlock investment opportunity to potentially drive job creation.

The in-depth engagement with these parties has been done to help the City to adjust the design vision for this area and to ensure that sufficient checks and balances are included in the eventual tender processes.

The proposed vision entails the development of sections of the land so that these could ultimately be managed as sustainable assets for the future generations of Cape Town by the City and the private sector.

This includes the potential development of residential opportunities, an underground parking garage, retail facilities, and uses ancillary to these facilities as well as the redevelopment and relocation of sports facilities.

The City has received positive feedback in general, but the prevailing input has been that strong development parameters must be put in place for any potential redevelopment of this site. The City agrees.

The City has also been urged to ensure that conservation and heritage matters are attended to as priority considerations. The City agrees.

In addressing some of these concerns the City undertook a botanical assessment of this site which was conducted by an independent botanical specialist. Consequently, the City will take on board the recommendations of the report, which include redesigning aspects of the development vision to explicitly protect patches of regionally significant vegetation, such as the Cape Flats Dune Strandveld (CFDS) vegetation which is found on two distinct patches on site.

When the public engagement processes have been completed, all comments will be considered. A transport impact study will also be undertaken shortly, the results of which will feed into the iterative design exercise.

All of these inputs will be used to determine the final urban design framework and the eventual tender processes for this proposed development, which we believe could make a vital contribution to the future sustainability of this city.

End

Issued by: Integrated Strategic Communication, Branding and Marketing Department, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Alderman Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Finance, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 400 1306 or Cell: 083 306 6730, E-mail:ian.neilson@capetown.gov.za (please always copy media.account@capetown.gov.za)