Fight for fair public lighting

Members of the Social Justice Coalition marching through the streets of Rondebosch to raise awareness for the need for public lighting in poor areas.

More than a 150 members of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) marched through Rondebosch on Tuesday May 28 to highlight how public lighting is available on every street in the area – which is not the case in poorer areas.

Axolile Notywala, SJC general secretary, said they were fighting for the fair allocation of public lighting in poor and disadvantaged areas. The march on Tuesday, from 6pm, demonstrated how areas like Rondebosch had public lighting available on every street in the area compared to an area like Khayelitsha that did not have lighting on every street and which were reliant on high-mast spotlights.

The march through the well-lit streets of Oakhurst Avenue, Coniston Road, Muir Way, Oakvale, Lochier, Sandown, Jamieson and Riverton roads raised awareness about safer streets, effective public lighting and equality light safety.

Dalli Weyers, SJC head of policy and research, said Rondebosch had a lot of public lighting on every street. 

“In Khayelitsha that is not the case, the vast majority of streets in that area has no public lighting and Khayelitsha is mostly reliant on high-mast spotlights which the City of Cape Town itself said should be avoided,” he said.

Rondebosch resident, Neil Andrews said they SJC had every right to march to show why public lighting was important. “It is a good idea to bring it to the attention of the public,” he said.

Another resident, Dasha Pershina said that everyone should have public lighting. “In whatever area you live in for safety purposes,” she said.

Many members of the SJC placed pamphlets in the residents’ postboxes which included infographics like Khayelitsha street robberies compared to Rondebosch street robberies, pedestrian fatalities in Khayelitsha and to indicate what the City said and did about public lighting was different to what they do.

Mr Notywala said the march was important to show its members who did not live in well-lit areas what it was like to walk in areas that have public lighting when it is dark. “We have sent many messages to the City to inform them about the discrimination in the allocation of public lighting. We are waiting eagerly for the mayor’s new budget to see whether they will allocate more money towards public lighting in poor and black communities,” he said.

Phindile Maxiti, the City’s Mayco member for energy and climate change, said the City remained committed to service delivery across the metro, including the provision of public lighting to areas such as Khayelitsha.

“Contrary to what is being claimed in public, the suburb of Khayelitsha is not in utter darkness and the City has been working hard over the past years to provide appropriate public lighting in this suburb and work is ongoing and lighting continues to be rolled out,” he said.

Mr Maxiti said 130 conventional street lights and eight high mast lights were going to be installed in Khayelitsha during the 2019/20 financial year. It will cost over R10 million, of which R6 million is for conventional lighting and R4 million for high mast lights.

Mr Maxiti said when it came to choosing the use of conventional lights and high mast lights, it was preceded by community engagement. “In accordance with the Khayelitsha lighting master plan, which was agreed to with the relevant sub-council managers in November 2017, the total number of installed conventional lights in Khayelitsha is 2 251 while the total number of installed high masts lights is 218, as of February 2019,” he said.

He said any high-mast or conventional street lighting which would be installed would be dependent on local conditions and community input. This was the second SJC night march on public lighting, with the previous one having taken place in February in Khayelitsha.