Tshwane council rejects boom-gate reports

The closure of the Pretoria suburb where President Thabo Mbeki and Cabinet ministers live has nothing to do with the Presidency, the Tshwane municipality said on Monday.

“We want to put it on record that the matter has nothing to do with the Presidency,” the council said in a statement.

“A permanent closure of streets by the municipality is not a rare occurrence. On a monthly basis the City of Tshwane metropolitan municipality is approached by developers to close certain roads or rezone the road reserve for office or business.”

The council said no application had been received for the restriction of access in Bryntirion, the suburb that has been home to the president, members of the Cabinet and other important officials since the early 1900s.

On Monday, it was reported that Mbeki, a critic of boom gates, will soon be living in a gated community himself after the Tshwane metro council approved an application for the closure of a number of streets in Bryntirion.

According to a mayoral committee report dealing with the application, Nassau Street, George Washington Boulevard, the Rotunda, Wenlock Road, Colroyn Road and Rothsay Road will all be permanently closed.

Perimeter fencing will surround the suburb and access will be controlled at a limited number of points.

The streets will also be rezoned and transferred to the Department of Public Works’ jurisdiction.

The council said on Tuesday: “The closure and rezoning of streets in Bryntirion has nothing to do with the erection of booms, as reported in some sections of the media.”

The municipality said the closure of roads was done in terms of the Local Government Ordinance Act.

To apply for restriction of access or to erect a boom on a public road, a complete process needs to be followed in terms of the Rationalisation of Local Government Affairs Act.

“Boom gates can only be erected after such a process has been followed and the road is never permanently closed. The council’s decision regarding the Bryntirion situation is completely different from what has been reported.”

The Tshwane metro council has been sharply divided on the subject of gated villages since a wave of applications for street closures in the city’s former white suburbs started piling-up in metro council offices a few years ago.

The ANC-controlled metro council, sensitive to criticism that booms entrench white privilege, has handled them with caution.

According to the mayoral report, the public works department was in the process of composing a master plan for the whole Bryntirion area, which consists of residential properties, farms, offices, a police station and a golf course.

This master plan “serves to guide and facilitate future development on the estate and primarily focuses on security, accommodation needs and the upgrading of existing facilities”.

Mbeki has criticised the proliferation of boomed suburbs and golf estates for perpetuating residential apartheid.

Mbeki’s pronouncements on this matter included a statement which said: “We have… an urgent challenge of bringing to a stop the pro-rich housing development strategies that ensure that the best-located land, close to all the best facilities, is always available to the rich.”

He asserted that the best land is reserved for the creation of gated communities and golf estates.
- Sapa

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