Ward councillor addresses what went wrong in Marlboro

Marlboro Ward 108 councillor Deborah Francisco has spoken honestly over the state of her ward.

Ward 108 councillor Deborah Francisco has come forward with her account of the state of the ward in Marlboro.

Francisco first assumed the role in Marlboro back in 2020. She shared her service delivery report for the 2024 calendar, listing the goals she had set for herself at the start of her term in office – as well as the challenges her efforts have encountered.

Leading among issues raised by Francisco is the unlawful occupation of land in Marlboro, which has delayed her plans for the revival of factories in the area. She said that by-law enforcers have been struggling to cope with the pile-up of infringements.

“It’s a big challenge, which I always report so that I can get assistance from by-law enforcers. If you take them [occupiers] out, then you must give them alternative accommodation.”

Francisco also stated how the general shortage of land allocation has remained a problem, referencing a housing project dating back to 1996. “I don’t know whether those 1996 people are still alive – because in 1996 they were already old people who applied during that time.”

The formulative understanding at this time is that units have yet to be allocated to candidates since those early years into our democracy – and many have been waiting. Marlboro’s modern developments, as well as existing industrial infrastructure, are reported to have been illegally invaded and occupied. These include houses built since 2020 from shipping container materials.

“Those container homes, on my side, were invaded; it was difficult to take those people out,” Francisco lamented over how damaged the apartments had become on the inside.

The illegal occupation of buildings in Ward 108 began when Francisco was still a young woman, she recalled.

The main issue plaguing Ward 108, according to the councillor, is that of a ripple effect triggered by deep-rooted social needs by persons who call the area home, albeit illegally. Francisco confirmed being aware of other issues about water and illegal power connectivity.

Marlboro Ward 108 councillor Deborah Francisco. Photo: Lebogang Tlou

“Yes, we are aware. We always call JMPD to go and confiscate all those cables. They come and take off all those cables, but illegal connectors will reconnect them again,” said Francisco. “The major problem is the illegal occupation of people in Marlboro, much so that we can’t even revive the factories. Even in the meeting I had with the business people of Marlboro, the burning issue was this same matter.”

Francisco’s 2020 goals set for Ward 108

  • To have the Marlboro industrial area operating as a mixed development (part industrial, and residential) area suitable to job creation.
  • To identify and explore viable short-and-medium-term economic opportunities targeting youth, people living with disabilities, and women
  • To encourage community members starting and managing their own businesses.
  • To identify and collaborate with relevant strategic partners in addressing, and resolving, challenges – including attracting capital development.

Ward challenges:

  • An anti-ward councillor faction has a negative impact on constituency meetings convened by the ward councillor.
  • Yard disputes wherein residents fight over the demarcation of yards.
  • Illegal house extensions
  • The occupation at Old Gordon Primary School, where issued notices to vacate the premises are resisted. (The status of the premises remains, while the future use of it has been flagged as a ward priority project on the community-based-planning (CBP) process of the city.
  • Crime in Ward 108 is rife, ranging from house robberies, rape, and house break-ins.

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