The historic Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter is located, has been filled with rubble and broken glass since the looting took place in 2021. This month volunteers came together to clean up the place.
After vandalism, the buildings in the Square were left with broken windows, electricity were cables stolen, and water and toilet facilities were damaged. Neither the City of Johannesburg (COJ) nor the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) took steps to clean it up despite the fact that JPC manages the Square on behalf of the City.
Residents and volunteers from the Kliptown Flats Community Clean Up Campaign began cleaning up the square on 29 January 2023. Everything that needed cleaning was taken care of, including trash and waste.
Xennie Plaatjies who is a resident in one of the flats owned by Housing said they could not leave the Square to rot without anyone taking charge of it. Businesses operating within and around the Square include furniture shops, hair salons, and printing shops but there is also a museum. The Kliptown Driver’s License Department has been closed since last year.
They started noticing the problems right after the looting. Most business and government offices are closed in the square. Since electrical cables were stolen, people there do everything out of their pockets.
Plaatjies said the effort was not just about cleaning up. “It is about reclaiming this space and making Kliptown a safe place again. This square is now a spot for criminals. We couldn’t close [fold] our arms and watch it rotting away.”
Plaatjies is also a leader of one of the patrols in which residents of the flats take part to keep the area safe.
Residents should take ownership of protecting the facilities around them. The Walter Sisulu Square is important to the history of the country. It is disappointing to have to see it in such a state where people from the area vandalised the place.
Having people stand up and clean the community is a good start to having change the community and motivating the other residents to also take part in cleaning up the community.
This article was submitted on 20 February 2023. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.