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somerset west cid

Working together with residents, local businesses and urban management specialists to create a rich urban environment where the Somerset West community can thrive, we – the Somerset West City Improvement District – welcome 2024 with the new challenges and opportunities it will provide. Together with the City of Cape Town, our partners, outreach initiatives and you, we will continue to strive towards reinvigorating our urban environment.

Aligned in our collective mission, we are committed to cultivating a thriving urban ecosystem that is safe, accessible and inviting to all the workers, visitors and community members of our district. We are unwavering in our commitment to the property and business owners of our area and intend to consolidate and elevate our services based on the successes of last year.

Please feel free to contact us at any time with queries or concerns and be reminded of our 24-hour security control room number for public safety incidents.

For Public Safety Emergencies Contact

24-hour Geocentric Control Room: 021 565 0900

Let’s embark on this journey together, embracing the challenges and opportunities that 2024 presents, as we collectively shape the future of our Somerset West community. Together we can create a stable, safe, clean area that is prosperous for our community both economically and socially.

Safety & Fire During the Hot, Dry and Windy Cape Town Summer Months

Cape Town fire season occurs from November through May. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

Cape Town is notoriously prone to wildfires that occur in natural vegetation when it is hot and dry in the summer months, which coincide with the windy season – creating ideal conditions for wildfires to occur and quickly get out of control. This season has already been earmarked to be the worst fire season in 8 years.

Cape Town fires are particularly common in the Table Mountain National Park due to the natural conditions in our fynbos ecosystem. But, homes and businesses are not exempt from danger, as any fire can spread quickly and far – up to tens of kilometres from the source. It is most important to keep your home, family and business safe, protecting life and property, as our urban living spaces share a boundary with the national parks in many parts of Cape Town and the Western Cape.

By 18 January 2024, there had been a total of 22 new fire incidents, with SANParks firefighting teams demonstrating swift response and effective containment. This influx has occurred particularly in the southern section of Table Mountain National Park, in Kalk Bay, Oceanview and Red Hill areas, as well as in the north of the park, in the Signal Hill and Pipe Track areas, posing significant risk to the communities living adjacent to the park, particularly with hot temperatures and strong wind conditions being experienced.

Fire Safety Precautions & Interventions

In Cape Town, there are various organisations in place to manage fire safety and interventions that should be taken, both to avoid fire and to control it when it happens. 

Home and work checklist for fire safety

  • Always have a “grab bag” with your important documents in it such as birth certificates and passports.
  • Make sure that all your insurance documents and other important documentation are backed up securely to the cloud.
  • Assign tasks to family members or staff such as placing pets or kids in the car and driving them to safety at a friend’s house out of smoke danger.
  • Run fire drills so that everyone is prepared in an emergency.
  • If you need to stay and help fight fires, cover your head, nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles. Wear good shoes and gloves.
  • Wetting the roof and gutters can stop hot ash from burning the roof.
  • Keep grass cut as short grass helps slow down fire.
  • Keep a hose pipe rolled up and ready to put out fires.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in kitchens and train staff or family members how to use it.
  • If you volunteer on the mountain in a wildfire, take a spade  –  this helps to beat out fire or throw sand on smouldering grass tufts.
  • Always remember, your safety is first and if you are not properly trained, call for assistance. 

Each year, the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service contracts the use of two Huey helicopters and a Cessna 182 spotter plane to support its firefighting efforts. These aircraft allow for mountain wildfires to be combated in inaccessible areas that pose a serious risk to property and life.

For the first time since using the aerial appliances, they are now branded this season, clearly identifiable as City resources.

Emergency & Contact information

Fire and Rescue Service Department

24-hour emergencies:

Telephone: 107 (landline) or 021 480 7700 (cellphone)

General fire safety enquiries:

Telephone: 021 590 1971 / 021 590 1975

To report a fire in the Table Mountain National Park

Please call:

  • Hotline: 086 110 6417 or
  • The City’s Regional Fire Control No: (021) 590 1900
  • Newlands Fire Base: Tel: +27(0) 21 689 7438

Fire Prevention Tips

There are simple preventatives we can all pay heed to – such as not lighting a fire or braai on a hot and windy day, and never extinguishing a cigarette out of doors, such as out of a car window, in grass or when hiking.

For property owners, ember-proofing any area requires the removal of all flammable plants up to 7m from a building, as well as overhanging branches. Checking and cleaning gutters and roofing for debris is important too. 

Other interventions that you can implement on a larger scale include considering your construction materials if you are remodelling and supplementing them for fire-resistant alternatives. You should also ensure full continued compliance with all local and national fire safety codes and think about installing fire protection systems such as overhead sprinklers. 

Unfortunately, despite all the precautions, a fire can happen to any size business at any time. That is why protecting your employees and your property should be a top priority. Following the above steps will help you avoid any fires breaking out and minimise fire-related damages. While there may be no such thing as truly “fireproof,” these guidelines are an excellent starting point for safeguarding your business. 

Resources

Western Cape Government

City of Cape Town

Sanparks

Facebook

It’s been another year of successes and tackling challenges head-on for the Somerset West City Improvement District. As part of our renewed commitment to public safety and urban cleaning and management, we persist in leading the way toward the continuous improvement of Somerset West as a thriving residential hub.

Our CID team has increased their presence on the ground, resulting in improved statistics across the board for 2023. We’ve driven more kilometres in our patrol vehicles, engaged with more members of the public and attended to more service requests and urban defects than ever before. We’ll continue with this increased presence in the community in 2024 and the years beyond.

This year, with 51 CIDs now in operation in the City of Cape Town, the new CID by-law and policy has come into effect. Geocentric, who has now been working with city improvement district initiatives for more than 2 decades, is proud to be responsible for over 25% of the total CIDs in operation. 

In addition to taking care of the public’s safety and urban cleaning, our CID placed a focus on greening areas across Somerset West in 2023. These urban beautification projects will be continued throughout 2024, in line with the goal of continuously upgrading our community. 

2023 Somerset West City Improvement District 2023 Stats

“Despite the challenges of a struggling economy, ongoing load shedding and higher fuel prices, the aim of the SWCID remained focussed on delivering top-up services to the public spaces of Somerset West throughout the year,” says Gene Lohrentz of Geocentric Urban Management, tasked with the delivery of our City Improvement District services.

The SWCID Board and Geocentric management team is committed to finding innovative, efficient and cost-effective ways to continue delivering on the vision for a safer, cleaner, well-maintained and vibrant community.  We look forward to more opportunities to make a tangible difference in 2024.

Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

As the festive season approaches, it is essential to prioritise safety at this time, as crime, accidents and fire hazards are usually on the rise during the holiday period.

Being mindful of potential risks and hazards can help safeguard you, your business and your property – from road safety considerations to vigilance against petty crimes in crowded business premises to more serious crimes such as hijacking and robbery. 

Along with keeping your personal safety in mind, if you are a business owner, it is imperative to be vigilant and proactive in implementing strategies that protect your assets, property and staff during the busiest time of year. 


Prevention is better than cure. That’s why we urge property and business owners to make every effort to prepare their properties, businesses, staff and themselves against opportunists and criminals with our safety tips below:

Emergency Numbers

Quick access to relevant emergency numbers can be the difference between life and death. We have compiled a comprehensive list for you to save and share for easy access to these numbers.

Once again, our 24-hour security control room is always available for your public safety emergencies.

Whatsapp group info 

If you’re interested in staying informed about our initiatives, as well as the newest developments in your improvement district, you can become a member of our SWCID business WhatsApp group by:

• Sending a WhatsApp message to 081 869 8911.

• You will need to include your Name and Surname or the name of your business

• You will need to include your street address, which should be within the boundary of the CID

• We will add you to the relevant CID Community Group

Rules and regulations for communicating will be stipulated in the group.

New planter boxes alongside Helderberg Village Centre

This October, we hold our Annual General Meeting (AGM 2023) to review the year’s activities and begin our planning for 2024/25. We hope all our members can attend. Non-members still have time to register. The new City of Cape Town CID by-law and policy came into effect on 1 July and that is available to view online.

The recent bout of storms and cold fronts experienced in the Cape have certainly added to the work of the CIDs, in particular in the way of road maintenance and fallen trees. We’d like to remind you at this time to assist us in providing effective service by logging a service request for any faults encountered.

Lastly, our CID has undertaken several urban beautification projects this Spring, adding greenery and cleaning up public areas of Somerset West. And, we have an update on the Public Transport Interchange (PTI) due for completion next year.

Read more below.

Our AGM 2023 is coming up

All stakeholders are invited to a review of the year’s activities and planning for 2024/25.

Resolutions presented at the AGM can only be voted for by bonafide members. All non-members wishing to take part must be registered before 9 October.

View all AGM documents here.

AGM Details

Wednesday, 18 October 2023, 15:00

The Farm House Coffee Shop Restaurant, The Trading Post Centre, 53 Caledon Street, Corner of Caledon and Myburgh Street, Somerset West.

RSVP to info@swcid.co.za

New CID By-law Policy

The new CID by-law policy came into effect from 1 July, which serves “To provide for the establishment of City Improvement Districts; to provide for additional rates; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.”

The City of Cape Town’s by-law and policy regarding the establishment and management of City Improvement Districts has gone through several iterations over the years since the concept of a CID was first tested in the year 2000.

The latest revisions of the by-law and policy comes as more than 50 CIDs are now in operation.

The by-law is available to download online here at openbylaws.org.za.

New planters for Somerset West CID

Spring greening Somerset West

A project that has been jointly provided by the Helderberg Village Centre, the Somerset West CID has made new planter boxes that are situated in Drama Street between Main Road and Caledon Street, paid for by the Helderberg Village Centre.

The planter boxes, which have been planted with greenery and installed by the CID, serve multiple purposes – the primary one being to beautify the area, adding greenery and life to a dull side road. Secondarily, the wide sidewalks have often in the past been used for illegal parking, blocking the accessibility of pedestrians and creating the opportunity for vagrants to urinate on the sidewalks next to the public shopping centre.

Turning a negative situation into an opportunity to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment for the public, the planter boxes prevent people from parking on the sidewalk and the antisocial behaviour around this.

The Somerset West CID are the custodians of the planter boxes and regularly water and maintain the plants.

Update on the public transport interchange (PTI) construction

Nearing completion in Q1 2024, the Public Transport Interchange (PTI) construction is well underway. The contractor has shared an update, stating that the completion date is still 18 March 2024, in spite of challenges faced including inclement weather and the taxi strike. The construction company has employed 15 local workers, including client liaison officer. The contractor would like to thank the community for working with us.

Logging a service request with the City

You too can assist with urban management and the growing number of faults and service requests that the City and our CID deal with on a daily basis. By reporting water and electricity faults and other maintenance requirements such as potholes, missing road signs or blocked stormwater drains, through the correct channels, we and the City are able to attend to these service requests and log their status in an effective way.

There are multiple channels through which you can do this – the easiest being the online portal at capetown.gov.za/servicerequests, which is also now available in the City of Cape Town mobile app.

View all the steps to log a service request on the flyers below.

Meet our Somerset West City Improvement District manager! Andrew Malgas is committed to making Somerset West better for our community, working tirelessly in his key role as our City Improvement District manager. ⁠ Andrew can be contacted directly on andrew@geocentric.co.za or 074 314 8302. ⁠ ⁠ General CID enquiries can be directed to info@swcid.co.za. ⁠ For Public Safety Emergencies contact our 24-hour control room on 021 565 0900.⁠ ⁠ For other important contact numbers, visit https://www.somersetwestcid.co.za. ⁠

2023 is well underway and as we embark on a year set to take our Somerset West City Improvement District to new heights, we introduce you to our manager and share some important reminders from SWCID and the City.

As always, our focus remains on developing a safe, accessible and welcoming urban ecosystem for all workers, visitors and community members in our district. We are firmly committed to supporting the property and business owners in our locality, and our aim is to build upon last year’s successes by strengthening and enhancing our services.

Meet our Somerset West City Improvement District manager!

Read more
Somerset West Improvement District 2022

2022 has been a year for celebrating successes for Somerset West Improvement District and tackling new and ongoing challenges. With our new five-year business plan term commencing in July 2022 we renew our commitment to providing top-up services to the City of Cape Town with a special focus on public safety, urban cleaning and management, continuing to lead the charge in the continual improvement of Somerset West as a residential and business area.

As we round up 2022 following our recent AGM held in November, we recap on the year’s work, successes and statistics.

Somerset West Improvement District’s achievements of the last year are a testament to the team’s commitment, experience and increased on-the-ground presence  –  led by the capable hands of Geocentric, who have been working with city improvement district initiatives since 2001 and responsible for a total of thirteen of Cape Town’s improvement districts from Salt River through to Strand, Tyger Valley and Wynberg.

“The rollercoasting aftermath of Covid lockdowns steadily calmed down in 2022, yet conditions remained difficult as significant increases in the cost of living and the continuous challenges of load-shedding remained at the forefront,” says Gene Lohrentz, director of Geocentric.

“In the face of these new challenges, the Somerset West Improvement District board and management team have remained steadfast in our commitment to providing high-quality top-up services in Somerset West. Embracing and implementing adaptability into our vision now seems entrenched in our day-to-day operations as well as our strategic thinking.”

2022 Somerset West Improvement District stats

Stay safe this festive season

From increased fire hazards in Cape Town to countrywide holiday travel to seasonal crime spikes, there are many reasons to up our vigilance these summer months and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Home and Work Checklist for Fire Safety

  • Ember-proofing any area, requires the removal of all flammable plants up to 7m from a building, as well as overhanging branches. Checking and cleaning gutters and roofing for debris is important too. 
  • Always remember, your safety is first and if you are not properly trained, call for assistance. 
  • Make sure that all your insurance documents and other important documentation are backed up securely to the cloud.
  • Assign tasks to staff and run fire drills so that everyone is prepared in an emergency.
  • If you need to stay and help fight fires, cover your head, nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles. Wear good shoes and gloves.
  • If you have access to water, wet the roof and gutters to stop hot ash from burning the roof.
  • Keep grass cut as short as possible as it helps slow the fire.
  • Keep a hose pipe rolled up and ready.
  • Keep fire extinguishers around that are regularly maintained and train your staff on how to use them safely and correctly.

Safety Tips To Prevent Property Crime

  • Ensure your property can be secured properly. This includes checking all locks, gates, doors, windows and roller shutters.
  • Ensure there are no gaps in your fence or perimeter wall or unintentional points of access to your business or home that may need additional security.
  • Make sure all bushes or trees close to your walls, gates and fences are trimmed, to avoid the possibility of intruders hiding or using them to access your property.
  • Adequate lighting around the perimeter of your property acts as a good deterrent
  • Connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors act as an additional deterrent.
  • Have an alarm installed by a reputable security company with armed response.
  • The key to effective security lies in being able to detect a potential intruder before they gain access. Adding detection beams and sensors of electrical fences vastly contributes to property security
  • Ensure your alarm is in working order. Business and property owners should test their alarms at least once a month and should the system require servicing this should be arranged as early as possible.
  • Please ensure that all the key holder information is available and ensure that key holders are available and able to come out to the property should the alarm activate, and checking be required.
  • Don’t leave ladders, spades or tools outside as these can be excellent break-in tools.
  • Ensure that remote controls for automatic gates and garage doors are not left lying around.
  • Always be alert to vehicles or persons following you into your entrance or the parking area.

Road safety tips

  • Check your vehicle before travelling long distances  –  including tyre tread and pressure, oil and water, wind-screen wipers, headlights and brakelights and ensure your spare tyre, jack and emergency warning triangle are all intact and stored in your vehicle
  • Leave early to be prepared for road congestion during busy periods
  • Take breaks to avoid road fatigue which can cause accidents
  • Be aware of pedestrians particularly when passing broken down vehicles or public transport
  • Never drink and drive

Read more

Contact details

As the year draws to a close we remind you once again of our important contact details to report emergencies and incidents.

For Public Safety Emergencies contact our 24-hour control room

  • 021 565 0900 – Geocentric Control Room 

Emergency numbers

  • 10111 – SAPS (South African Police Services)
  • 107 – City of Cape Town Disaster Management

City Of Cape Town

  • General Enquiries: 0860 103 089 – Sms 31220 (Electricity)
  • Cable Theft: 0800 222 771
  • Roads And Stormwater: 0800 656 463 – Sms 31373
  • Metro Police & Traffic: 0860 765 423

Visit our Contact page for more details and  capetown.gov.za for more City of Cape Town Emergency Numbers.

Join our WhatsApp Community Group

If you are curious about the work we do and want to stay up to date with the latest developments in your improvement district, you will be able to join our SWCID business WhatsApp group by:

• Sending a WhatsApp message to 081 869 8911

• You will need to include your Name and Surname or the name of your business

• You will need to include your street address which should be within the boundary of the Somerset West Improvement District

• We will add you to the Somerset West Improvement District Community Group

Rules and regulations for communicating will be stipulated in the group.

In the last few months, we’ve been working hard on our most important goals all to make our community a safe, rich urban environment where our community can thrive. 

Here is what we have achieved so far:  

The saying goes that ‘Great floods flow from simple sources’ and as we prepare for the harshness of the howling gales and pelting rain that make up Cape Town storms, we couldn’t agree more. Many of us are more conscious of the pivotal role that winter preparation plays in city management and what the lack of it can look like as demonstrated in the aftermath of the 2022 KZN floods

“A combination of terrain challenges, insufficient or ill-maintained infrastructure and increased population density are the main contributors to flooding problems,” says Gene Lohrentz, CEO of urban management company Geocentric. 

Here is how we are making sure we are ready to weather the storm: 

Creating a clean eco and economically friendly environment: 

Did you know that according to the Waste 2020 Market Intelligence Report, the Western Cape created between 138 278 and 162 138 tonnes of plastic waste in 2019? This much plastic equates to an estimated market value of between R473.8 and R631.7 million that is simply not being tapped into because of the manpower and infrastructure required to sort it at scale. 

We help turn our trash into cash and create additional value out of waste products by bridging the gap between the litter on the street and the recycling plant. Cleaning and sorting as we go into our appropriate wheelie bins to be recycled directly from the drains and gutters of our streets.  

But it is not only our drains. We also sort the content of the public litter bins.  We service these bins daily and the plastic bottles, cups and cans are now removed and recycled where possible, instead of sending everything to a landfill.

New Weather Stations: 

2022 marks the final rollout of our weather stations. These are vital in monitoring rainfall intensity, giving us information on potential flood areas so that we can preempt pumping them. In our busy districts, the weather also impacts how much accident monitoring we do and helps us ensure we have enough staff to keep infrastructure damage to a minimum and avoid road blockages and closures.   

Taking an upstream approach to ocean conservation 

As part of our winter preparedness programme, we haul out all sorts of items from our waterways. This allows heavy rains to safely run along the contours of the land, into the rivers and eventually the sea.

We consistently intervene to keep our drainage system healthy and prevent waste from entering our stormwater runoff systems by methodically cleaning our drain catch pits and drain inlets.  Just before winter, we ramp this service up as part of our winter preparedness programme. 

Importantly this cleaning means heavy rain runs away from buildings and infrastructure. Preventing damage as much of the cost of flooding is due to the impact that items carried by the water have.

So what happens to all the litter we remove? 

You guessed it, most of the litter removed is plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans which are separated and earmarked for recycling. 

Trimming the Trees 

Every month we carefully trim the trees in our area and report major tree issues to the Recreation and Parks Department and relevant property owners. By professionally caring for our trees before our wind direction changes we prevent any dead, diseased or damaged branches from falling onto people, cars,  electric fences, vehicles, and properties. It also serves to help clear any branches that may be blocking lights, alarm beams and security cameras to make sure criminal activity is kept to a minimum. 

Here is what you can do to help us and yourself this winter 

  • Clear the clutter from your gutter so the water can run off to a stormwater drain safely. 
  • If you do not have additional water tanks ensure your water is draining to stormwater and not sewage drains. To direct rainwater into the sewage system is illegal and can land you with a heavy fine. 
  • The maintenance of security cameras is just as important as installing them. Dust carried by our winds builds up on the lenses turning into the mud with the first rain and making any evidence not admissible in court so it is best to clean them before the rains start.

While no individual raindrop ever considers itself responsible for the flood we all have a responsibility to pull our weight. Our work forms an essential preventative measure that results in environmentally responsible and sustainable prevention of weather-related challenges such as traffic congestion, property damage, and power outages. 

If you notice any weather-related issues please communicate to our Community WhatsApp Group below. 

If you have any concerns to report, please contact one of the following numbers:

10111 – SAPS (South African Police Services)

107 – City of Cape Town Disaster Management

021 565 0900 – Geocentric Control Room

0800 872 201 – Give Dignity Initiative 

 

As we approach the Easter weekend many families are looking forward to much needed time spent bonding over easter egg hunts and delicious lunches. However, as we all travel to our destinations, the days leading up to Easter weekend see many more motorists driving further in the first rains of our wet season.

As we set off in these conditions, we urge all motorists to take extreme caution and increase their awareness of the common causes of accidents and other road-users safety.

Here are our top tips for travelling safely this Easter weekend.

Check your vehicle.  

Many accidents happen due to vehicles not reacting to a driver’s delayed response If you are travelling in heavy rain, use the brightest setting for your head and tail lights to improve visibility. Ensure that your wiper blades are in good condition as spray from other vehicles reduces visibility considerably so take extra care when overtaking or being overtaken. Braking is significantly impacted by the tread on your tyres so make sure you have sufficient tread. If you experience car trouble, turn on your hazard lights as bright as you can, set up additional warning signs if you have them in your car and pull off the road. Remain seated inside the car especially at night, as glare from your hazards may make it difficult for oncoming traffic to see you. 

For more information on how to check your vehicle watch the Arrive Alice video below 

Leave early and take breaks. 

Due to the increasing amount of vehicles on the road drivers should leave earlier and be prepared for delays on the roads during poor weather conditions. This will help you avoid any abrupt acceleration, excessive speed and sudden steering movements which are the main culprits of accidents. Additionally, adjust your speed and following distance – five to seven seconds to break –  to ensure that you can stop safely.

Drivers’ fatigue – caused by long-distance driving after a long day at work or a late night – is also a major contributor to fatal accidents. Emotional stress, lack of sleep, boredom and sun glare all cause fatigue so make sure to get a good seven hours of sleep before you travel. Additionally, for most of us, our sleep-wake cycle is set to be resting between 2 am and 6 am so try not to travel in these low light early hours of the morning. 

If you are tired, stop and have a rest. Signs that you are too tired to drive include your eyes shutting, daydreaming, swerving, crankiness, restlessness and frequent yawning or eye rubbing. 

Remain aware of other road users. 

Last year, approximately 35% of the people who died on the roads over the Easter long weekend were pedestrians – making them the group most affected by accidents. Please remain aware of the sides of the road, particularly when travelling between towns as many people hitchhike to see their families. In areas of particular interest, there will also be signs alerting you to remain vigilant. Once you have spotted a pedestrian, slow down and give them lots of space until you have passed them fully as those who have consumed alcohol are likely to make dangerous decisions. If you can, plan to avoid driving in low light conditions as these combined with bad weather make other road users far more difficult to see. 

Do not drink and drive – at all. 

According to the new amendments in the National Road Traffic Act, anyone caught with blood that has an alcohol content of more than 0.05% will be arrested, charged with Driving Under the Influence of Liquor and held in custody until they can post bail if bail is not denied. Depending on your record, and the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you face the loss of your driver’s licence, a criminal record, a minimum fine of R2 000, a two-year prison sentence, or all of the above. 

To put 0.05% into perspective any more than 350ml of beer, or a single tot of Brandy puts you over the limit with these levels of alcohol remaining in your system for up to eight hours after consumption. 

Be aware of the signs of other drivers who may be drunk around you, such as weaving between lanes, accelerating and braking erratically or displaying delayed responses. If you think another driver is intoxicated, put more distance between yourselves and them as quickly and safely as you can. Please also report it by contacting the City’s Law Enforcement, Traffic and Coordination Department by calling 021 480 7700 or the National Traffic Call Centre on 086 140 0800.

By making sure we have road safe vehicles, taking our time getting where we are going, respecting the pedestrians on our roads and never getting on the roads intoxicated we ensure that all of us can enjoy safer roads this Easter. 

Headlines From The City

City’s budget will do more to clean up our Mother City

City serious about diverting organic waste from landfills

Comment on the City’s draft Integrated Development Plan 2022 – 2027

Featured image credits : <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/photos/green-road’>Green road photo created by 4045 – www.freepik.com</a>

Mahatma Gandhi said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, as South Africans, we are desensitised in part to the poverty that permeates our ordinary lives. Used to the sight of the radical impact our ever-expanding gap between the haves and have nots creates. While many of us want to help, most are uneducated on the extraordinarily complex issues that create and sustain homelessness. 

Due to our own basic understanding of these ever-evolving issues, it makes a greater difference when we partner with and give back to organisations equipped with the infrastructure, skill and experience to combat homelessness and help in a sustainable way.

“Handouts of cash given to desperate – often mentally ill people – add fuel to the same addictions that put them on the streets. Institutions such as our partners at The Haven Night Shelter have spent decades building, perfecting and maintaining the social infrastructure to efficiently maximise the impact of our donations and the results are inarguable,” says Jaco Wessels, COO of our appointed urban management company Geocentric.  

Here are our top recommendations of non-profit organisations active in 2022 and how to  contribute to their vision responsibly:

The Haven Night Shelter

Like us, they believe that there comes a stage in the downward path at which individuals cannot help themselves and are dedicated to being there to give them the lift they need. They help by making temporary shelter, rehabilitation opportunities, social welfare services, family reunification services, physical care and support available to adult people living on the streets. Helping to holistically ensure the reintegration of the homeless community into society.

We call often on their dedicated team of trained field workers to delicately encourage resistant people to come off the streets and get the person back home. The process is often a lengthy one and involves logging the person on the relevant City database of homeless people, trying to track down that person’s family and making contact, assisting with travel arrangements and following up with the family to check the individual is safe. 

To get in touch:
Call them on +27 (21) 425 4700 or send an email to info@haven.org.za.

Visit their website here to find more information on how you can help. 

Here are some tips on how you can help responsibly:

  • Donate directly to a registered and legitimate NGO in your area. Your donations do not have to be monetary either so be on the lookout for clothing items, towels, tents, blankets, pillows, bags or non-perishable groceries for institutions such as FoodForward SA.
  • Support charities and campaigns by advocating to prevent homelessness on social media. By following and sharing posts of organisations such as Women’s Shelter Movement, Ons Plek and Youth Solutions Africa you help grow their followings and advocate their cause.
  • Volunteer your time or professional skills. Everyone from the accountants among us to the karate teachers has a unique offering that can improve the lives of those less fortunate – so ask your local charities how you may dedicate your skill to improving their offering.  

Since the ratio of people in need of help, and the help available, is so unbalanced many NGOs and NPOs are left with tight funds to run the businesses themselves. By donating your, time, skill, possessions or money in a responsible way you not only help make our district a safer space but provide our homeless residents with the chance to rekindle a sense of pride, community, and dignity. 

Cape Town fires 2021. Source: Associated Press.

Cape Town’s fire season occurs from November through to May which are our hottest, and driest months. Together with our beloved south-easterly “Cape Doctor” – which adores clearing our city of pollution – these arid conditions create ideal opportunities for wildfires to spark and quickly rage out of control. 

From our homes and businesses to our beloved Table Mountain National Park, there are various organisations in place to manage fire safety and intervene both to avoid fires and to control them when they happen. 

It’s true that fires are a part of the South African landscape and occur naturally in grasslands, woodlands, fynbos, and sometimes in indigenous forests. However, there has been a disastrous loss of natural diversity in our fynbos ecosystem and an invasion of Australian wattles, Eucalypts and Mediterranean pines. Now, our fires burn hotter for longer and each fire destroys more than the last. Meaning it’s more important now than ever to actively keep your home, family and business safe and to protect the life and value they hold. 

Home and Work Checklist for Fire Safety

  • Ember-proofing any area, requires the removal of all flammable plants up to 7m from a building, as well as overhanging branches. Checking and cleaning gutters and roofing for debris is important too. 
  • Always remember, your safety is first and if you are not properly trained, call for assistance. 
  • Make sure that all your insurance documents and other important documentation are backed up securely to the cloud.
  • Assign tasks to staff and run fire drills so that everyone is prepared in an emergency.
  • If you need to stay and help fight fires, cover your head, nose and mouth and protect your eyes with goggles. Wear good shoes and gloves.
  • If you have access to water, wet the roof and gutters to stop hot ash from burning the roof.
  • Keep grass cut as short as possible as it helps slow the fire.
  • Keep a hose pipe rolled up and ready.
  • Keep fire extinguishers around that are regularly maintained and train your staff on how to use them safely and correctly.

Other interventions that you can implement on a larger scale include considering your construction materials if you are remodelling and supplementing them for fire-resistant alternatives. You should also ensure full continued compliance with all local and national fire safety codes and think about installing fire protection systems such as overhead sprinklers. 

Unfortunately, despite all the precautions, a fire can happen to any size business at any time. That is why protecting your employees and your property should be a top priority. Following the above steps will help you avoid any fires breaking out and minimise fire-related damages. While there may be no such thing as truly “fireproof,” these guidelines are an excellent starting point for safeguarding your business. 

Additional Resources

Preventing fires in the Western Cape

City of Cape Town  –  Basic Household Fire Safety

Fire is Everyone’s Fight Toolkit of guidelines and posters with lesson plans

Sanparks – Fire management / Table Mountain National Park Fire Management Plan

Contact information for  the Fire and Rescue Service Department

24-hour emergencies: 107 (landline) or 021 480 7700 (cellphone)

General fire safety enquiries: 021 590 1971 / 021 590 1975

To report a fire : Hotline: 086 110 6417 or The City’s Regional Fire Control No: (021) 590 1900