Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
2 minute read
27 Jul 2022
6:00 am

‘If we don’t fix it, who will?’ – Pretoria North clean-up crew won’t let cops stop them

Marizka Coetzer

Soon after the group started cleaning last week, a city official asked them to stop working until they had safety precautions in place.

Picture: iStock

The Pretoria North community who are cleaning up the streets say they won’t give up their mission to restore the area to its former glory.

Last week, the community members cleaning Pretoria North, called #onssalself, came under fire from authorities after taking matters into their own hands and cleaning up their neighbourhood pavements and parks.

Democratic Alliance (DA) constituency leader for Pretoria North Adriana Randall described the initiative as wonderful.

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“When a community takes a stance, it is not for a politician to interfere. But if you want to do it in a lawless way, unfortunately, I cannot subscribe to it. I am bound by laws, regulations and bylaws of the city,” she said.

Randall said soon after the group started cleaning last week, a city official asked them to stop working until they had safety precautions in place.

“At that stage, they only had a few orange cones placed on the road to warn motorists.

“They also had no other boards/signs indicating that a cleanup was taking place, no security officer to regulate and warn oncoming traffic and the volunteers were not wearing any security gear as required,” she explained.

“They need to follow the processes correctly. We cannot be seen doing things similar to those breaking the law by glueing posters and pamphlets onto roadsides,” Randall said.

Local estate agent Quentin Meyer, who started the initiative two months ago, said he would not give up. Meyer started the cleanup campaign after his clients wanted to sell houses because of the decay in the area.

The group first started fixing potholes in the area and later cleaned up parks and street pavements. Meyer admitted he felt temporarily discouraged by the backlash from the authorities but decided to push through.

On Wednesday morning, #onssalself workers helped an elderly woman whose car was stuck in a huge pothole on Ben Viljoen Street.

“If we don’t fix it, who will? And who is going to pay for the damage to her car?” Meyer asked.

The group has now started to clean up Emily Hobhouse Park.

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Meyer said they were looking forward to cleaning the entrance to the area and would get the right equipment so as not to be stopped in the future.

“We also have one of our guys, Alfred the litter man, walking the streets of Pretoria North to pick up papers.”

He said they needed sponsors to help with rakes, brooms and plastic bags.

Meyer said the focus remained on upgrading the area despite the resistance from the authorities.

“We also received hate mail but will not let it get us down. We will continue to move forward,” he said.