Liesbeek Maintenance Report December 2006 to May 2007

Liesbeek Maintenance Report December 2006 to May 2007 of Year 3

Steering Committee:

Jacki Lange / Leonora Sauls (SAB); Martin Thompson (City); Wendy Vosloo (WESSA) & Friends of the Liesbeek representatives Kevin Winter & Liz & Dave Wheeler.

The River Team:

The Team has remained the same as from October last year. The members are David Nyathela, Siyanda Mlalandle and Siphelele Sontundu team leader/river warden – three very different individuals but all pleasant with delightful senses of humour. On three monthly contracts they now work Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the Liesbeek Maintenance Project. This is thanks to the generous sponsorship of South African Breweries and Tuffy Brands. At present Siphele and Siyanda work on Tuesdays and Fridays for the Friends of Rondebosch Common and David for Footprints Environmental Centre.

Siphelele has a passion for books and reading, is a serious thinker who at times does have difficulty making decisions. He speaks good English and is quiet, reliable and interested in the work. He has the makings of an excellent River Warden given more training and experience. He has helped translate the contract into Xhosa. Early this year he left the Haven night shelter in Selkirk Street having found alternative temporary accommodation in Philippi. His current desires are to acquire more permanent accommodation, a computer and a bicycle. He has not made progress in the obtaining of his code 10 learners driving license as classes through Men on the Side of the Road have been discontinued and he now works five days a week as well as some Saturdays.

David is a hard worker and is currently on leave for two weeks as he has had back problems and has been told by the doctor to rest.

Siyanda has taken up our suggestion and attends grade 10 night school classes at Masiyile School in order to get his matriculation certificate. He also works at Rondebosch Motors over weekends as a petrol attendant. He regularly helps to support his mother in rural Eastern Cape.


The Team continues to cover the San Souci to Burg Roads stretch on a weekly basis with monthly visits to Kildare Road Bridge and carpark, Paradise Park and Protea. With Tuffy Brand now sponsoring work on Mondays the Team has and will visit the Burg Road to Durban Road reaches more frequently.

Litter and debris removal still continue to take up much of the time. Several businesses and blocks of flats need to manage their waste storage and removal better. We still encourage businesses to make use of the free cardboard collection by Oasis. The dumping of garden cuttings and rubble is still a regular occurrence.

Vagrancy problems were particularly bad earlier in the year at the overhang near Dean Street, Newlands and at Fountain Square, Rondebosch. Siyanda was physically manhandled in Newlands and threatened in Rondebosch. We have also been intimidated in Rondebosch and have had tools stolen. There seem to be two particular problem makers, one in Rondebosch who has subsequently been arrested for being in possession of stolen property and the other in Newlands who seems to be mentally disturbed. Our thanks go to Daryl Domeyer and Arthur Daniel from the Displaced People’s Unit for their ongoing work. However, they need the support of the community to help ameliorate the situation. Moving people on does not solve the problems. The Rondebosch Community Police Forum under the new chairmanship of Shirley Aldum has set up a small Street Peoples Subcommittee. Rondebosch Pick ‘n Pay has a representative on the Subcommittee. Currently we are looking at various programs in the Claremont CBD, Observatory and in the City. The difficult issue of alcoholism seems to be the major area of concern along the Liesbeek and probably the most difficult to deal with. Councillors Ian Iversen and Owen Kinahan have been supportive.

The Team continue to recycle discarded materials as much as the logistics of moving up and down river on foot with tools allow. We continue to support WESSA, Oasis or Footprints with tins, cardboard and glass. All money from refundable bottles and scrap metal continues to be shared out to the Team.

Summer and Autumn have seen us working in the riverbed or canal cutting back overhanging vegetation to minimise obstruction in cases of heavy rain and so as to improve safety and visibility. The newly planted trees and plants continued to be watered twice weekly with buckets but this has tailed off due to the rain. The removal and follow up of invasive vegetation is ongoing. Stands of invasive brittle grass are slowly being removed on the Newlands and Rondebosch reaches. Balloon vine, morning glory and moth catcher continue to be a problem as well as passerainthus lophantha (stinkbean), ginger, canna indica etc. We have recently noticed the madeira vine as a problematic new invader. If left the vines will slowly kill the trees on which they are climbing and the other invasive plants will reduce biodiversity. The wetland below the lower pond at Protea has been cleared of poplar saplings, lantana and bramble. The vegetation along the River Trail is trimmed and weeded and the path swept as required. The onset of leaf fall has kept the Team busy sweeping leaves and clearing blocked drains. Ground cover cuttings of plectranthus, osteospernum jecundum and arctotis auriculata have been propagated and planted out. Aloe arborescens have recently been planted along the wall of Rondebosch Lodge as well as seventeen polygala shrubs along the fence of Albion Mill. These were kind donations from Mrs. Lewis and Dr and Mrs Rowe.

Graffiti continues to be painted out with cement supplied by the City. The Team has learnt to mix coloured oxide with the cement which gives a better finished appearance on brick walls such as at Salwood Court and Albion Mill. We did not receive the whitewash from Parks for the pumphouse wall at Albion Bridge but Technical Finishes kindly donated 20L of their special Glutone. Before we could get to use it Mr Glickman had his contractors who were painting a nearby block of flats paint the wall and bridge! We really do appreciate civic mindedness like that along the river. We have been permitted to keep the Glutone for the next opportunity.

Banks have also required stabilisation at a couple of places. This the Team does on a very minor scale with logs cut from any branches we can find.

Weekly phone calls are made to Talcott Persent from the City Department of Roads, Stormwater & Rivers concerning pick up points for the bags and debris and any other matter of concern. Bart Brand and Patrick Williams from the Parks Department discuss work frequently with us either by meetings or telephone.

Education & Training:

The Team is slowly learning the routine of work on the river and coming to know the plants and understand the various concepts. There is a lot to learn and remember.

On Thursday 29 March the team visited the City Water Saving Expo at Alphen Centre. They were really interested in all the exhibits and asked some very good questions. Then again on Wednesday the 4th of April the team visited Footprints Environmental Centre in Wynberg to attend lectures on Feeding and Caring for our Soil.

Siphelele has attended the Western Cape Wetland Forum meetings and of his own volition joined the Friends for walks on Human Rights Day and Environmental Sunday. The mentoring programme has not taken off due to work commitments.

Westerford School has generously sponsored the River Team’s attendance at the You and Your Money course being run for the School’s grounds and cleaning staff. This involves eight Wednesday afternoon hour and a half sessions which cover such topics as budgeting, higher purchase, etc. It is an extremely worthwhile course for which we are greatly indebted to Westerford.


We have had good coverage in the Chronicle and Tatler concerning the dumping of a large cement collar and polystyrene granules respectively. Our thanks go to Tweet Gainsborough–Waring and Toni Stuart for that. The People’s Post also mentioned the River Team and displayed their photograph whilst writing on the vagrants in Rondebosch. I had met with Ally Verbaan the journalist to promote the Maintenance Project!

Brooks & Michaels did an Autumn flier on the Friends of the Liesbeek and the Project which was distributed to three thousand homes in the area.

Exciting is the coverage the Liesbeek will get during the Thames Festival in London in September. The British Council, working with the Friends of the Liesbeek, has organised for one hundred and twenty Cape Town scholars to have their art works depicting various themes about the Liesbeek displayed at this event. The Liesbeek will be featured alongside the Yangtze, Ganges, Nile and the Thames!

Kevin wrote up about the Project and thanked the sponsors in the Friends of the Liesbeek March newsletters and I have done likewise in Cape Environment, the newsletter of WESSA Western Cape.

Pamphlets acknowledging sponsors and inviting participation continue to be distributed. People met on the river or taken for walks or those consulting our website are informed about the Project and its sponsors. Periodically the Project and sponsors are listed on our notice board at Riverside.

I have given talks at the Claremont Probis Club and at the TRUP Open Day where our exhibition has also been displayed. The display was also lent to the British Council.


The property and business owners on the Liesbeek Trail continue to gain aesthetically and subsequently financially by having a well maintained river. Users of the Liesbeek Trail enjoy using a more attractive and safer asset. The river certainly is in a healthier state than most Cape Town rivers. The River Team is regularly thanked for their efforts by passersby.

It is of immense relief to the River Team to know that for the period of their contracts they have work for three days a week. Both David and Siyanda have family members who benefit too. The men continue to gain new knowledge and life experiences.

Grateful members of the public continue to have stolen possessions returned to them and business owners have been pleased to have non delivered flyers brought back to them.

Effluent control officers are able to trace spills more easily due to prompt reporting.

We have also helped deal with numerous dumping problems which saves the city money and pleases the public.

The three recycling depots already mentioned have also benefited which is great for the team also to be of help to others.


WESSA staff, Wendy Vosloo and Alta Swanepoel continue to manage the Project finances which the Friends of the Liesbeek appreciate. The current income statement as of 31 May 2007 is attached as well as the budget for 2007.

We are delighted and extremely grateful that South African Breweries has increased our funding this year by ten thousand rand and that Tuffy Brands has come forward to sponsor a third day’s work a week. They have also sponsored bags from the virtual onset of the Project and will continue to do so.

On the Friends of the Liesbeek membership form is a space for people to add a donation towards the Project. Donations, mainly from this appeal, have varied from R20 to R500 and in all totalled R4625.

The British Council donated R5000 to the Friends of the Liesbeek of which to date R3000 has been transferred to the Project and R500 paid to a river guide for taking the walks for the children chosen to submit art works as mentioned in the publicity section.

Siphelele currently receives R135.00 a day, David R115.00 and Siyanda R110.00. They supply their own food and pay their own transport. No doubt the latter will be showing marked increases with the rise in petrol costs. Therefore increases may have to be considered.

Participants to Date for 2007:

  • SA Breweries is the major financial funder
  • Tuffy Brands sponsor a days running costs a week & donate tough plastic bags
  • Westerford School is sponsoring the team on the You & Your Money Course
  • WESSA do the financial administration
  • Buildmor Paint & Hardware donated new brooms
  • Pick ‘n Pay Family Store Rondebosch donated a pool net
  • Technical Finishes donated 20L of Glutone
  • City of Cape Town Roads, Stormwater & Rivers arrange weekly collection of bags, debris & vegetation
  • City of Cape Town Parks provide support and advice

Thanks: Advertising informs but sponsorship transforms.

The Friends of the Liesbeek and the River Team are much appreciative of those participants, sponsors and friends who have made it possible to continue running the Project this half year. Your generosity has social and environmental ramifications which are noticed and appreciated by many who walk the River Trail.

Councillors Neil Ross, Ian Iversen and Owen Kinahan are thanked for their continued interest and support in maintaining a unique City asset.

My thanks go again to Trevor Hughes for being on standby when I have needed time off.

We also thank ERA STEER Constantiaberg who have again sponsored Mathews Moetsi’s salary for this year on the Bishopscourt Village reach for three days a week.

Sustainability and the way forward:

The future of this most worthwhile and successful project in its third year is still uncertain. The Team is hard working and conscientious but not yet competent to manage any length of time on it’s own. There is much training and reinforcement of training still to be done. Moving up and down the Liesbeek operating over a distance of about four kilometers with tools needs transport. I have continued to voluntarily manage, train, supervise and work with the team most days. Much as I have enjoyed setting up and running the project and working with the men my time for retirement is approaching.

A concerted effort needs to be taken to find some more voluntary helpers or else the solution will probably have to be a paid manager with a suitable vehicle. The latter will require considerably more funding.


Property owners along the Liesbeek and businesses in the Rondebosch CBD need to be brought on board. They are the ones who really benefit financially from a well maintained riverine corridor. However, there is still the perception that rates should cover the maintenance of the Trail. During the time covered in this report the Parks Department have not had a regular workman on the Trail. However, someone is due to start in June. He will be expected to work from Sans Souci to Belmont Road, an impossible task for one man. Employing contractors sporadically is not the answer. Money has been made available thanks to Councillors Ian Iversen and Owen Kinahan through the Ward Allocations for the repair of the paths from Albion Spring to the railway siding, Rondebosch as well as for clearing of invasive vegetation at River Park, Mowbray and benches on the Liesbeek Parkway / Vredenburg Road reach, Rosebank. The Friends of the Liesbeek are really grateful for this. However, it is disappointing that the obtaining of quotes and the appointing of contractors by the various City departments has been so slow. Work, just begun, now takes place under bad weather conditions. Once completed we hope that people will feel more motivated to support the Project when requested by the Friends.

As has frequently been said the Liesbeek and the Trail is a wonderful aesthetic, recreational and educational which needs to be conserved and rehabilitated by all for all now and in the future.

Maintenance of the Liesbeek environs is crucial to the wellbeing of the surrounding suburbs and not just to the riverine corridor.

Liz Wheeler

About Admin (Trev)

I am the Vice-Chairman of The Friends of the Liesbeek
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.