Since the establishment of the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District in 2012, the VRCID team members have worked day and night to deliver excellent results for both their designated areas across Bellville and Parow. They strive to help less fortunate individuals living on the streets by helping them get into hostels and by building new accommodative solutions. They also improve the security of the area by a significant amount, teach children valuable new skills, and increase cleanliness and sustainability of the VRCID area for all.
VRCID has formed strategic partnerships with the likes of the MES Group, The Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP), the City of Cape Town, the SAPS and Safe2Park, and collaboration with these organisations increases the efficiency and reach of projects. The greatest collaboration, however, is between the members of our own internal team who work together seamlessly to improve the area. Each of our eight incredible VRCID members were asked one or two questions about their role in the VRCID and here is what they had to say:
Derek Bock (Chief Operation Officer):
What plans do you have for the next five years that will really make a difference to business owners in the area?
I would like to think that the VRCID, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, has laid the foundation for the next
5 years of the VRCID term. Our main focus will now be on introducing more innovative ideas with regard to cleansing, as well as safety and security. On the cleansing side, we have to start thinking of combining mechanical cleansing methods with our current manual approach. On the safety and security side, I would like to see the roll-out of CCTV cameras throughout the entire VRCID, to complement our public safety officers. It will also provide a handy crime prevention tool for SAPS and Metro Police through deterrence.
Why should property developers consider investing in the Bellville/ Parow area?
The VRCID will continue with their work, which will include bringing dilapidated buildings to the attention of the City of Cape Town, so that action can be taken against the owners. To ensure that we prevent the broken window syndrome and a decrease in the value of property in our areas, business and building owners must maintain their properties and ensure that tenants adhere to regulations. By ensuring this more investors will be drawn to the VRCID area which will benefit all.
Leonie van der Merwe (Admin and Precinct Manager):
What do you enjoy most about being part of the VRCID and what do you strive to achieve with the organisation?
For me it is the engagement with Business and Property Owners within the VRCID; to meet with them on a daily basis, discuss their specific problems and find ways to resolve them is what the VRCID is all about. It is a great feeling to accomplish something for the VRCID levy payers, the public and all stakeholders within the VRCID. Together with SAPS and the City of Cape Town we are slowly restoring public confidence in the area in terms of safety and security. This will eventually ensure that businesses return to the VRCID area.
Jeanne Preston (Operations Manager):
How have safety and security improved in the area since the establishment of the VRCID? Please share a couple of examples.
The establishment of the VRCID has successfully alerted people to the issues threatening safety and security in the urban areas of Parow and Bellville. These include problems such as crime, problem buildings and illegal trading, to name a few. This was achieved through implementation of visible operations throughout the area by teaming up with Neighbourhood Watches and community organisations, as well as working closely with Law Enforcement agencies.
The deployment of security staff to hotspot areas has served as a deterrent for potential criminals. Besides deploying these security staff, the VRCID Management is also active in creating a continuous presence in the area, ensuring that concerns and issues can be conveyed to the Law Enforcement agencies for quicker responses. As part of the VRCID efforts, clean-ups are performed daily and nightly to monitor suspicious people on the streets as well and to act as a further criminal activity deterrent. Supported by cameras installed throughout the area, the VRCID have spotted and arrested several criminals over the past five years, resulting in a safer urban environment. Security staff are playing a vital role in aiding the public with vehicle breakdowns, emergency assistance and incident response. They are also playing a preventative role by educating the public regarding the safe use of cell phones and tips for safety of handbags.
How does the VRCID work with SAPS and Law Enforcement?
The VRCID staff attend both regular SAPS operations in the area and visible policing initiatives such as roadblocks. Routine clean-up operations performed by the VRCID team with the Law Enforcement Displaced Peoples Unit are also conducted to ensure that areas within the VRCID are kept clean. Alongside these scheduled initiatives, the VRCID also works with SAPS to resolve acute incidents of crime and disruption. For example, during an incident in 2016 the VRCID discovered an illegal printing operation in Kruskal Street in Bellville. This was immediately reported to Metro Police and a suspect was arrested. This kind of cooperation has become part of the daily co-operation between the VRCID and SAPS which so benefits the community.
Jean Beukman (Precinct Manager):
As a Precinct Manager, what noticeable changes can business owners and tenants notice on the streets of Bellville, your area of responsibility.
My aim for the Bellville Precinct is to maintain a clean and safe environment for all. Business owners will notice that there is less litter in the parks of the Bellville precinct as these are regularly monitored by the VRCID for the maintenance of cleanliness and accessibility to the public. As Precinct Manager, I also ensure that issues with roads and sidewalks are reported to the City on a daily basis, and minor repairs to the area are performed regularly by the VRCID.
If you could share one important piece of information with all property owners and/or tenants, what would it be, and why?
It is important for property owners to appropriately maintain their buildings for the safety of their occupants and users. This will have a positive influence on the surrounding area in addition to your immediate environment! Tenants can also do their part by reporting any defects to their leasing agency as quick as possible. This will bring the decay of the buildings to a halt, and will ultimately have an extremely positive influence on the area.
Chris Matthee (Precinct Manager):
As a Precinct Manager, what noticeable changes can business owners and tenants notice on the streets of Parow, your area of responsibility.
Thanks to regular operations by the security and cleansing teams, the streets are visibly safer and cleaner. A steady stream of arrests made by security staff have alerted suspects and criminals to our presence and sent out a clear message of zero tolerance. Public drinking and indecency, as well as illegal trading, are also being addressed daily to ensure that the area remains clean and safe. We are also pleased to report many successful efforts to involve the community with crime prevention through co-operation with Neighbourhood Watch Groups, including the local Community Policing Forum.
If you could share one important piece of information with all property owners and/or tenants, what would it be and why?
The City of Cape Town has planned upgrades for the area which will result in a more favourable experience in Parow. In addition, PRASA is busy discussing a complete clean-up of the Parow Railway Station. Both of these efforts will have a huge impact on the surrounding areas, but require the assistance of current individual building owners and tenants to ensure that their premises are maintained in compliance with City legislation.
Over the next couple of years, the image of Parow will improve drastically, which will attract more investors who can then assist with further upgrades to the area.
Wilma Piek (Social Development Manager):
What does the social development aspect of the VRCID entail and how are you working with NGOs to achieve your vision?
The goal of the Social Development aspect of the VRCID is to create a sustainable environment. Firstly, we focus on breaking the dependency cycle by empowering homeless and unemployable person to become ‘response-able’ by teaching them the ability to respond appropriately and independently to life’s demands. Our two fieldworkers perform outreach work on a daily basis for people and children living and begging on the streets. They build a relationship of trust with them, to then provide motivation, assistance and referral them to other NGOs to find shelter, food, and clothing, etc.
We also create awareness surrounding responsible giving. This is achieved by educating the business and residential communities to respond appropriately to people living on the street, as well as empowering organisations who deliver services to these people.
A platform, called the Social Development Joint Operations Committee, has also been created for all stakeholders involved with people living on the streets to meet and share best practise models. The JOC identifies gaps or overlaps in service delivery and works to develop alternative, tailor-made solutions to assist people living on the streets according to their needs. The JOC lobby and advocate for the development of additional resources in our area and facilitate effective partnerships to create a sustainable environment for the most vulnerable in our community. Finally, the JOC also encourages preventative programmes in our surrounding communities to prevent people from ending up on the streets.
Veronica Geduld (Sosiale Ontwikkeling Veldwerkster):
Vertel ons asseblief van ‘n paar sukses stories wat jy as veldwerkster oor die afgelope jaar saam met die VRCID bereik het?
Een van ons eerste suksesse was ‘n jong dame en haar drie-jarige dogtertjie. Sy was in ‘n verhouding met ‘n buitelander (foreign national) en die dogtertjie is uit die verhouding gebore. Die pa van die dogtertjie het dwelms gebruik en kon uiteindelik nie meer vir hulle sorg nie. Hulle het op straat beland en ons het een aand met hulle kontak gemaak tydens ‘n uitreik. Ons het aan haar verduidelik dat sy nie met haar kind op straat kon slaap nie. Sy het ons vertel dat sy eintlik van Springbok af kom en dat sy daar ‘n huis het om in te woon. Sy was ook seker dat sy ‘n werk daar sou kon bekom maar sy was egter nie seker of haar familie haar sou terug verwelkom nie. Wilma (ons maatskaplike werkster) het haar familie gekontak en hulle was meer as gretig om haar en haar kind terug te ontvang en te ondersteun. Ons het vir haar ‘n buskaartjie geboek en sy is die volgende dag terug Springbok toe. Ons volg nog gereeld op hoe dit met haar gaan en sy het intussen ‘n vaste werk as kelnerin in Springbok bekom en is nou in staat om haar kind ten volle te versorg.
Tannie Gertruida (nie haar regte naam nie) het meer as 20 jaar op straat gebly. Elke keer as ons by haar aankom om hulp aan te bied, het sy ons weggejaag en gesê dat sy nie hulp nodig het nie. Tannie Gertruida kon nie sien nie en ons het vermoed dat sy katarakke op haar oë gehad het. Ons het kontak gemaak met ‘n oogkundige in die omgewing en sy was bereid om ons gratis te help. Uiteindelik het sy vir tannie Gertruida ‘n afspraak by Tygerberg Hospitaal se oog-afdeling gekry, waarvoor ons drie maande voor moes wag. Sy het ook vir haar ‘n bril gegee, nadat sy die oogtoets gedoen het en tannie Netta was so opgewonde om darrem weer ‘n bietjie te kan sien. Ek en my kollega Jacque het aanhou om haar te motiveer om van die straat af te kom en met ‘n moontlike naderende oog-operasie, het sy op ‘n dag ook besef dat sy nie verder op straat sal kan woon nie.
Jacque het vir tannie Gertuida blyplek by ‘n familie-lid van hom in Ravensmead gekry en met die hulp van die VRCID kon sy daar woon, totdat haar ongeskiktheidstoelaag goedgekeur is. Ons moes haar natuurlik ook help om ‘n ID-dokument te bekom en daarna om vir haar toelaag aansoek te doen. Tygerberg Hospitaal kon die katarakke suksesvol verwyder en het ook weer vir tannie Gertruida ‘n aangepaste bril voorsien. Ons kon tannie Gertruida se famile opspoor in Mitchell’s Plein en na baie jare is sy nou weer in kontak met haar kinders. Sy gaan kuier gereeld vir hulle oor naweke en alhoewel sy nog nie 100% daar is nie, het haar alkohol misbruik grootliks afgeneem en sy lei tans ‘n meer konstruktiewe en opbouende lewe. Sy woon vandag steeds by Jacque se familielid, maar betaal nou vir haar verblyf.
Gift (skuilnaam) is ‘n 9-jarige dogter wat sedert haar geboorte saam met haar ouers op straat gewoon het. Haar ouers het haar nooit skool toe gestuur nie. Bedags moes sy op haar eie speel of saam met haar ma skarrel vir kos. Gift het Jacque tydens een van ons uitreike genader en gevra hy moet haar asb help om skool toe te gaan. In samewerking met Badisa Trio, het ons probeer om alternatiewe versorging vir haar by haar familie te bekom sodat sy skool ook kon bywoon maar ongelukkig was hierdie sonder enige sukses. Badisa Trio het ook nie pleegouers gehad waarheen ons Gift kon neem nie en aanvanklik het geen kinderhuis plek gehad vir Gift nie. Jacque en sy vrou het hul huis oopgemaak vir Gift en sy het twee maande by hulle en hul gesin gewoon. Sy is uiteindelik oorgeplaas na ‘n plek van veiligheid en is nou opgeneem in ‘n geregistreerde kinderhuis waar sy skool gaan en haar kinderlewe kan geniet. Sy is baie gelukkig in haar skool en ten spyte van haar agterstaande omdat sy laat skool toe is, vaar sy baie goed akademies. Gift sal uiteindelik geskool wees en ‘n lewe vir haarself kan maak en nie soos haar ouer broers en susters ook maar net op die straat eindig nie.
Carin Bezuidenhout (real name substituted) found herself destitute on the streets of Bellville. Originally from Mitchell’s Plain, she had nowhere to go after her divorce. She found accommodation in Goodwood with “friends”, only to discover that it was a drug house. She ended up at the MES Safe Space, where we assisted her. After she could shower and put on new, clean clothes, I tried to find her a shelter placement but unfortunately all the shelters were full. It was clear that Carmen would not survive a night on the streets so I contacted an elderly community member in Ravensmead. This lady gave Carin accommodation and the Presbyterian Church assisted with a food parcel. This is just one example of the partnerships between the VRCID, MES, the Presbyterian Church and other NGOs allowing us to effectively assist destitute people.
Jacque Pietersen (Sosiale Ontwikkeling Veldwerker):
Hoe kan besigheid eienaars en inwoners van die area die VRCID se sosiale ontwikkelingspan uithelp?
Business owners and community members can be ambassadors of change for street people by sponsoring the life skills and job rehabilitation programmes within the NGOs to help sustain them. There are also possibilities for direct action – instead of hiring a Garden Service, why not employ a Grow Team and provide income generating opportunities for people who want to change their lives? Community members can also act by referring street people to the NGOs who can help.
We always encourage community members to give responsibly by giving not a ‘hand out’ but rather a hand up by working with the NGOs. By assisting through an organisation who want to help people get off the street and back to their families and communities of origin, sustainable relief can be delivered. We also support the purchase and distribution of food or shelter vouchers to people begging. These will enable rough sleepers to obtain a meal or shelter for the night and an opportunity to enter a developmental programme.
If you have any questions or spot problems in the area which you think require the attention of the VRCID, please feel free to give us a call, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org