Entering the Plastic View informal settlement behind the Moreleta Church, a mother with her baby on her back was among the waste collectors pulling big bags of recyclable materials towards an open area to sort and sell.
For many years, residents have complained about the informal residents and recently collected more than 1 000 signatures in a petition to remove or relocate residents living in the settlement.
Local residents described the settlement as an eyesore and crime hotspot that decreased the value of the properties in the area.
But Plastic View resident Shadrack Dube pointed out that not everyone living in the settlement was a criminal. He said the homeowners had closed off the shortcut they used to access the shops easily.
“We tried to talk to them, but they do not understand. We were put here. Tshwane is responsible for putting a fence around us, for water, toilets and security at the gate to control everything,” he said.
One of the leaders of Plastic View, Smart Chipwany, said that sometimes the taverns were noisy, but not every day. “No drugs here, but prostitution is everywhere,” he added.
Chipwany said they needed fencing around the settlement.
“The crime has decreased because the community united against it. We have 35 community members who patrol,” he said.
Chipwany said the church provided the community with a school for the children and a clinic.
“We are happy. Toilets and water and lights have been supplied, it’s okay,” he said.
‘Sodom and Gomorrah’
Johan Stapelberg, who works in the area, described Plastic View informal settlement as Sodom and Gomorrah, the two legendary biblical cities destroyed by God for their wickedness.
“No spiritual outreach, or politician, or police officer will be able to eradicate the evil. Don’t think that the tin house you see on the horizon is a house only for shelter.
“Under that house is another house [cave] where the big problem lies with evil, the slaughter of stolen dogs to eat, drugs, witchcraft and the trade of much more than we think,” Stapelberg said.
Stapelberg said it didn’t matter whether the church sent 10 or 100 people to school, or handed out food every day because nothing would change.
“There is a group culture that expects food, clothes and other alms to be distributed. It is expected because the culture was created from receiving and sharing,” he said.
Stapelberg described it as a bottomless pit because the more people were given, the more they expected.
“You are feeding the beast,” he added.
Democratic Alliance ward councillor Henning Viljoen said the community around Plastic View had reached breaking point.
The residents planned to hand over the petition to the City of Tshwane citing concerns about noise pollution, criminal activities, cable theft, illegal housing and dumping.
“It has become a big problem with the constant noise from the taverns and the prostitution. They do as they please there while police do nothing,” he said.
City of Tshwane spokesperson Sipho Stuurman said the city was aware of the long-standing challenges regarding Plastic View.
“We are working and looking at possible long-term solutions. “Equally, we understand the residents’ frustration and we thank them for their patience thus far,” he said.