GSCID Operations Manager, Charl Brooks with Ward Councillor Matthew Kempthorne on a subway site inspection

GSCID Operations Manager, Charl Brooks with Ward Councillor Matthew Kempthorne on a subway site inspection


Southern suburbs Ward Councillor Matthew Kempthorne is behind an initiative to clean up subways which had been abandoned by the local community due to their dismal state. “They were being used by vagrants as shelters at night, had become littered with rubbish and were generally in a poor state of repair,” says Kempthorne. 

During an inspection of the subway near Silwood Centre in Rondebosch, Kempthorne said: “This is an important site with several schools and retirement homes in the area. It is important that we encourage the community to use the subways for their intended purpose.”

According to Kempthorne, the initiative came about as a result of Rustenburg Girls High School contacting him with a concern over so many of their students jaywalking across the highway, rather than using the subways. “It was an accident waiting to happen,” he says.

School pupils were no longer using the subways and cycle lanes due to their undesirable state and pedestrians were risking their lives crossing the busy highway, rather than using the subway alternative.

“At one point,” says the Councillor, there were some 60 homeless people using the subways for shelter yet despite being offered options for relocation, many rejected this help. It is an ongoing challenge because despite the City’s good track record of rehabilitating the homeless, they often return after a few days due to the lure of good money from begging and odd jobs.” “It was important that we take action, says Kempthorne, “as the situation posed infrastructural problems with vagrants continuing to making fires in the subways, especially as the weather gets colder.”

The plan is to clean the subways on a regular basis, upgrade the lighting and security gates, which are now locked at night with tamper proof locks to secure them.  “We removed two truck loads of rubbish in our initial clean-up,” says Kempthorne.

Rondebosch SAPS now do regular motorbike patrols to monitor the subways and GSCID security officers also regularly patrol the area and lock the security gates at night. The highly visible mobile GSCID kiosk is a further deterrent to anti-social behaviour parked as it is opposite the Silwood Subway. Cllr Kempthorne expressed his appreciation for the co-operation from CharlBrooks and the GSCID for their additional patrolling and locking up and opening of all these subways in the vicinity. They are opened at 5.00am and locked at 7.00pm daily.

Since implementing the plan, which has included regular visits from the City’s water truck to wash out unpleasant odours, locals are slowly returning to the subways. “Thankfully, the community is now starting to use them again and the more people using them, the safer they will be. We welcome feedback from the community if there are problems and they can call the homeless hotline on 0800872201 or contact the City’s call centre on 0860103089.

“Now that the word is out that we will continue to harass transgressors if they persist in their behaviour, the numbers of vagrants still hanging about have fortunately dropped to about 12,” says Kempthorne. 

At a strategic level, Kempthorne advises that the City has budgeted R140million for public and non-motorised transport (versus R105m on new roads), reflecting the City’s priority with regard to promoting non-private means of commuting.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved in these subways, which are now infinitely more useable than before and the success of this initiative once again demonstrates the beneficial partnership between SAPs, the GSCID, the City of Cape Town and the local community,” says Kempthorne.





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