Marizka Coetzer
3 minute read
15 Jul 2022
5:00 am

Making Pretoria safe again to honour Mandela

Marizka Coetzer

Clean-up inspired by campaign to honour Madiba during Mandela Month

A member of the Tactical Solutions Canine Tracking Team searches for drugs while Nellie, a Dutch shepherd, gets rewarded with a toy for sniffing them out during a crime prevention patrol in Pretoria on Thursday. Picture: Jacques Nelles

A clean-up initiative by local businesses and the community to tackle the dirty and demolished properties on Nelson Mandela Drive to take back the streets and make Pretoria safe again.

Catherine Keyworth, from the Central Improvement Districts in Arcadia, said the city was in a dirty state due to antisocial behaviour such as littering, illegal dumping and crime.

Keyworth joined City Property, City of Tshwane, Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) and private security in Sunnyside to clean along Nelson Mandela Drive until the Tshwane University of Technology campus.

“The idea was to get community involvement around the area to make it safer,” she said.

While workers and volunteers cleaned the pavements, cut tree branches obstructing traffic and removed invasive plants, police and K9 unit dogs Nellie and Khai patrolled the area to search for the illegal substances, such as Nyaope, being sold by the street vendors.

A passerby, Karabo Mathabo, said he felt unsafe walking down Nelson Mandela Drive because of all the illegal dumping and vendors operating in the area. “People don’t care. They just walk past it,” he said.

Mathabo decided on the spot to jump in and help with the cleanup and was given gloves.

During the clean-up, volunteers identified another eyesore in the area opposite Len’s Place, where a car dealership’s premises were demolished and left in a heap of rubble.

The site of a demolished building in Pretoria where a car dealership used to be, 14 July 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

After witnessing a taxi nearly hitting two pedestrians, Elsa Groenewald from the City of Tshwane phoned the TMPD to inspect the premises. “It is dangerous. Pedestrians have to walk in the road because the pavement was occupied with stones, bricks and broken glass,” she said.

Groenewald, a project manager for the city’s rapid response unit, said it was not just an eyesore and against the city’s bylaws, but dangerous. “We are looking at everything from byways to water leaks,” said Groenewald.

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Sunnyside resident George Kubheka said pollution was a big problem in the area. “We are responsible for this. Us and the municipality must keep this area clean,” he added.

He said there were many unemployed people in the area who could get involved in cleaning the city. “Imagine they can employ some of us to help clean up that mess. Right now, we are just hustling to stay alive,” he said.

Kubheka said there was a lack of toilets and shelter for the many homeless people.

Members of the Tactical Solutions canine tracking team search for drugs during a patrol in the Pretoria CBD in collaboration with the City of Tshwane, Saps and correctional services, 14 July 2022, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Taxi drivers parked across the road thanked the volunteers for cleaning up the area.

Lize Nel, from City Properties, said the area was starting to look nice again. She said the clean-up initiative was inspired to honour Nelson Mandela during Mandela Month by cleaning up Nelson Mandela Drive in the city.

Nel said they started cleaning on Nelson Mandela Drive between Pretorius and Johannes Ramokhoase Streets, along the Apies River, where they collected 210 bags of rubbish and removed two invasive trees.

City Properties managing director Jeffrey Wapnick said they wanted to create a clean and safe area for everybody to use.

“We will be clearing the area of rubbish, drugs and vegetation. We love our city and we know what needs to be done. I believe Madiba would be proud of what we are doing in the capital city,” he said.