29 May 2020:
MESSAGE BY EXECUTIVE MAYOR GESIE VAN DEVENTER
By now we have all become somewhat accustomed to our new normal. Everywhere I go, I see residents being vigilant about wearing masks and sanitising their hands as often as possible. From Monday there will be less restrictions on our movements and the majority of employed residents will be returning to work. The easing of restrictions however require us to be more vigilant and take greater care of ourselves than ever before.
LEVEL 3 RESTRICTIONS
President Ramaphosa has announced that the entire country will move to level 3 lockdown from 1 June and I welcome this announcement. As restrictions start to ease, we will inevitably be coming into contact with more people. This increases the risk of infection. Our best way to prevent the spread of this virus is to wear a mask at all times when you are in public, sanitise or wash your hands as often as possible, sanitise all office and home surfaces regularly, avoid touching your face and maintain social distancing in public. This is really a sneaky virus and it demands constant vigilance from all of us to curb the spread!
I want to implore all our residents not to start socialising with friends and family too soon. I know this is hard and it has been one of the greatest challenges for all of us during lockdown. If we start visiting and socialising too soon, the virus will spread more quickly than ever before and all our efforts would have been for nothing. Stay at home as much as possible and travel only when it is essential. Try to restrict your contact with people as much as possible - it is the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe.
SERVICE DELIVERY CONTINUES
We have been very busy at the Municipality. Essential service delivery, which is the core function of any municipality, has continued unabated throughout the lockdown period and I would like to salute the essential services officials for their heroic work during this time. Other municipal officials who have been working from home, have started to return to our offices in a phased approach and are rotating shifts.
IMPACT ON OUR ORGANISATION
As an organisation, we have not escaped the effects of COVID-19. Several staff members and two councillors have tested positive and are currently recovering. As we are made aware of positive cases within our organisation, we follow all protocols and decontaminate the affected work spaces. The Health Department then takes over as they are the body responsible for tracking and quarantine protocols. Please join me in wishing these individuals a speedy recovery.
From 1 June, Traffic Departments across the country will start reopening. Our safety measures have been put in place and we are ready to go but we are awaiting the approval of Province to reopen our Traffic Department. All residents who missed learner or driver licence appointments during the first phases of lockdown, will be contacted to reschedule their appointments. The lockdown has caused a backlog at certain departments and I want to assure you that we are working hard to clear this backlog and tend to all the needs of our residents.
We have implemented strict measures to ensure the safety of officials, councillors and residents who visit our municipal offices. These include:
As far as possible, I would like to encourage residents to continue contacting us electronically via our social media platforms, email, telephone, WhatsApp lines or through our brand new Citizen Mobile App, instead of visiting councillors and officials in their offices. The safety of our staff and residents is our top priority.
Like many companies across the world, we have had to embrace technology to help us perform our work in a safe and transparent manner by making use of streaming services to conduct our first ever virtual Mayoral Committee Meeting and Council Meeting. We will continue to make use of this technology for the time being so that councillors can safely take part in council meetings. We also put measures in place to have our meetings streamed to the public and I was happy to learn that more than 150 people tuned in to view our first ever virtual council meeting this week.
IDP & BUDGET
During this meeting, we approved the IDP and Budget for the 2020/2021 financial year. Although we were all looking forward to the launch of various new and exciting projects, we have had to re-evaluate and plan very carefully. This is a budget year like no other, as we have had to take into account the enormous and disastrous impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on the lives of our residents as well as our local, national and international economy. We therefore had to postpone some projects and make cuts to others in order to compensate for the decrease revenue stream we are anticipating in the coming financial year. We also expect cuts in government funding when National and Provincial Departments present adjustment budgets in June and July. We will however be addressing this by means of an adjustment budget in September, which will also give us the opportunity to better anticipate the effect of COVID-19 and the lockdown on our own budget.
Our focus is therefore driving efficiencies and doing more with less. Our core purpose remains service delivery and therefore the majority of our capital budget is invested in the maintenance, upgrading and expanding of our critical infrastructure like waste water treatment works, electricity networks, roads and water infrastructure to ensure quality service delivery to all our residents. This is also critically important to support our local economy. We further made provision for critical security and safety services and have budgeted significantly for street lighting, the lighting of public spaces and CCTV cameras.
We have made every effort to keep our rates as low as possible, especially in these difficult economic times. The cost of electricity is however out of our hands as it is determined by NERSA and ESKOM. My budget speech and the full budget document is available on our website and I encourage you to have a look at our plans and proposals for the next three years.
COVID-19 RELIEF FUND
As we are facing harsh economic times, I decided to take an item to council that will give all councillors the option of donating to the Mayoral Fund for COVID-19 relief efforts. This in line with recommendations made by SALGA who advised municipalities to create a Section 12 fund for COVID-19 relief efforts. I am happy to report that the majority of councillors approved this item aimed at assisting the most vulnerable members in our community.
The item speaks specifically to the 4% increase that is applicable to all councillors across South Africa. The 4% increase is determined by the National Department of Cooperative Government and must also still be approved by the MEC for Local Government. Councillors are also able to contribute whatever they feel they can – this can thus be more than the 4% increase or less – it is entirely up to each individual councillor. The donation to the fund is voluntary and contributions can also be done anonymously. The “Mayoral Fund” is an established fund in terms of Section 12 of the MFMA that is managed by the Municipal Manager and Chief Financial Officer and audited by the Auditor General of South Africa. It is often colloquially referred to as the “Mayoral Fund” as I partake in various fundraising initiatives throughout the year to raise money and donations for this fund. If you want to donate to this fund, you can contact my office or the Municipal Manager’s office who will gladly assist you.
I want to thank all our residents who have continued to pay their monthly accounts despite these difficult financial times. It allows us to continue delivering services to all. Please stay safe and take every precaution necessary.
8 May 2020
THE FOLLOWING IS A LETTER ISSUED TO STELLENBOSCH COMMUNITIES BY MAYOR GESIE VAN DEVENTER TODAY
In line with the level 4 restrictions for lockdown that kicked in on 1 May 2020, our officials are starting to work from the office again. All officials will not return to the office at once and we are following the guidelines of a phased approach as set out by President Ramaphosa. This means that we will restrict the number of people in office spaces and our officials will be coming into the office on a rotational basis. Working in the office on a rotational basis will help us restrict the contact between officials and reduce the risk of any possible infection. Officials who are not in the office, will continue to work from home. We continue to do our very best to ensure that our day-to-day operations continue with as little disruption as possible. Our front-line workers have been doing an excellent job in ensuring that our towns remain clean and all our basic services continue uninterrupted every day.
Under level 4 lockdown regulations we are allowed to open our offices to serve the community. That is why we have put all the necessary safety measures in place for staff and residents. Our cashier's offices opened to the public on Wednesday, 6 May. They will be open from 08:00 to 15:30 every weekday. We have implemented stringent safety measures including social distancing, screening and regular sanitizing of our offices. Thank you to each and every resident who continues to diligently pay their municipal account.
Residents who want to pay municipal accounts can make use of the electronic platforms for payments. Electricity purchases can be made at Easy Pay and Pay@ points (Checkers, U-save, Woolworths, Spar, Pick ‘n Pay etc.) Some banks also facilitate easy electricity purchases. Any debtor account enquiries can be sent to:
In an effort to make access to local government and public participation easier, especially during the time of lockdown, we launched our new cell phone app on the 1st of May. The new Stellenbosch Citizen app has allowed residents to submit their inputs on the Draft Budget and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) remotely via cell phone or computer. In this time of lockdown it is vital that residents still have easy access and opportunity to communicate their needs and priorities to us for inclusion in the final Budget and IDP.
The app is available to download from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Store. The app also works on feature phones such as Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson devices. It uses very little data and will allow greater access for public participation than ever before. The new app is a great platform on which we can build and include more functions in future. Please download and install it on your phone. We have made every effort to make it as user-friendly as possible. Your experience and feedback will help us improve this platform in future and I am very excited to hear what you think of it.
I have spoken to you about #StellenboschUnite on previous occasions. As a caring local government, we are making every effort to provide support to our residents in need within our legal government framework. Out of this, #StellenboschUnite was born. It is a collaborative aid action purposed to provide social support to vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 pandemic and brings together Stellenbosch Municipality, Stellenbosch University, Visit Stellenbosch (civil society), Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network (representing the non-profit sector) and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust (administrators). To date, this initiative was largely funded by private donors, which we are extremely grateful for.
In order to better assist our vulnerable communities, Stellenbosch Municipality will be making available R100 000.00 to Stellenbosch Unite on a monthly basis for three months. The funds will be drawn from Grant-In-Aid funding in terms of our Grant-In-Aid Policy. The policy stipulates that grants be restricted to R40 000 per organisation per annum. As we are dealing with a unique global pandemic that is impacting on the lives and livelihoods of many of our residents, this stipulation was amended in terms of the emergency powers vested in the Executive Mayor for a one-off increase in this amount.
Further to this, additional funding of R900 000.00 was sourced from the Provincial Government. This will also be allocated towards Stellenbosch Unite over the next six months. This is in an effort to aid and accelerate food distribution to those in dire need across our region. We will also be rendering in-kind services to Stellenbosch Unite. We have already made premises available as a collection and distribution point and make staff, drivers and vehicles available if and when necessary. Please visit the Stellenbosch Unite website (www.stellenboschunite.org) if you would want to make a contribution.
The humanitarian crisis caused by this virus will be with us for some time and we are making every effort to assist our most vulnerable residents.
As we settle into level 4 restrictions I want to remind all our residents of the regulations during this time:
Please wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol based sanitizer. Regularly clean all surfaces and avoid touching your face. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to stop the spread of COVID-19. It can be done if we cooperate and work together.
I urge all our residents to please adhere to the national government regulations. Residents who are found not adhering to these regulations will face fines and even a prison sentence. These are challenging times for all of us and we are making every effort to ensure the health and safety of our residents. You are precious to me and we want to make sure you are protected.
Stuart Grobbelaar T: 021 808 8172 | C: 084 036 1395
Mart-Marié Haasbroek T: 021 808 8024 | C: 072 910 3724
Stellenbosch Municipality channels R1.2 million towards food relief programme
30 APRIL 2020
STATEMENT BY EXECUTIVE MAYOR GESIE VAN DEVENTER
During this challenging time of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent national lockdown, our poor communities have been particularly hard hit.
As a caring local government, we are making every effort to provide support to our residents in need within our legal government framework. Out of this, #StellenboschUnite was born. It is a collaborative aid action purposed to provide social support to vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 pandemic and brings together Stellenbosch Municipality, Stellenbosch University, Visit Stellenbosch (civil society), Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network (representing the non-profit sector) and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust (administrators). To date, this initiative was largely funded by private donors, which we are extremely grateful for.
In order to better assist our vulnerable communities, Stellenbosch Municipality will be making available R100 000.00 to Stellenbosch Unite on a monthly basis for three months, starting at the end of April 2020. The funds will be drawn from Grant-In-Aid funding in terms of our Grant-In-Aid Policy. The policy stipulates that grants be restricted to R40 000 per organisation per annum. As we are dealing with a unique global pandemic that is impacting on the lives and livelihoods of many of our residents, this stipulation was amended in terms of the emergency powers vested in the Executive Mayor for a one-off increase in this amount.
Further to this, additional funding of R900 000.00 was sourced from the Provincial Government. This will also be allocated towards Stellenbosch Unite over the next six months.
This is in an effort to aid and accelerate food distribution to those in dire need across our entire region. We will also be rendering in-kind services to Stellenbosch Unite. We have already made premises available as a collection and distribution point and make staff, drivers and vehicles available if and when necessary.
As a first priority, Stellenbosch Unite supplies weekly food packages to identified vulnerable families. We will start mobilising to be in a position to offer further aid that might be needed if the pandemic worsens. This is an unprecedented situation requiring readiness and responsiveness. It is impossible for us to do this without the much needed aid and assistance of our community. We are calling on all of Stellenbosch to unite and to help us to ensure that no one in our towns have to face hunger and starvation.
A basic provision food parcel for a family of four people will be supplied to a minimum of 2 500 households per week. We require at least R250 000 per week to fund these efforts.
Most of the NGOs involved in this initiative funds food distribution via donations received from their private donors and funders. The Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network (SCAN) distributes food only to existing vulnerable beneficiaries of its member organisations in the NGO sector. These approximate 2 500 vulnerable families were supported by the NGO's prior to Covid-19, and now also receive food support funded by the NGO sector themselves, SCAN and Stellenbosch Unite. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, Stellenbosch Unite came alongside SCAN to provide food relief to those who lost their income directly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
All the information about how you can get involved and how you can register for support is on the Stellenbosch Unite website: www.stellenboschunite.org
Please note that councillors are not allowed to distribute food parcels. Councillors are however allowed to submit names for food parcels, which data will then be verified by Stellenbosch Unite. The Municipality will continuously review our assistance and support of Stellenbosch Unite as the situation progresses and assist as best we can.
As a community, it is our duty to come together and help those less fortunate. Our hope is that this effort will bring our entire community together and create a more cohesive, caring community that will inspire us beyond the national lockdown.
Stuart Grobbelaar T: 021 808 8172 | C: 084 036 1395
Mart-Marié Haasbroek T: 021 808 8024 | C: 072 910 3724
This is a strange and difficult time for all South Africans and indeed for many residents of our municipality. The economic impact of the national lockdown can be seen and felt across the country and many of our residents are struggling to make ends meet as most businesses are closed and incomes are affected. For this reason, my administration has continued with its efforts of finding smart ways of helping our communities.
Council already adopted a number of financial relief measures on 25 March 2020, including the deferment of payment of rates under certain circumstances, an increase in free water allocation to indigent households and the suspension of all credit control measures until the end of the lockdown period. Yesterday, I approved another financial relief item that the interest rate set out in our Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy be changed to 0% for April, May and June 2020.
This means that no interest will be charged on accounts that have not been paid for April, May and June 2020. This is an important relief measure towards our residents who are struggling financially. It will also ensure that anyone who does not receive their municipal account on time, due to delays in printing and challenges with the South African Post Office, will not unfairly be charged interest. We encourage all residents and businesses with the means to pay accounts on time, to continue to do so as these funds are needed to continue with service delivery.
All our procedures and practices implemented since the start of lockdown is running as planned. We continue to adjust and adapt as the time goes on to address issues or unexpected challenges that arise. Our core function is service delivery and it continues to run smoothly with staff working from home as well as on the front lines to ensure that basic services are delivered throughout this lockdown period.
This week we were notified that the community-based screenings and testing for the COVID-19 virus will be rolled out to our municipality next week. We have therefore stared with the necessary preparations for this critically important process. Health Workers will be visiting Kayamandi from Monday, 20 April, to conduct door-to-door visits. A standard list of questions will be asked and health workers may then, based on the answers provided, request that a resident visit a clinic for testing.
Our greatest concern is our vulnerable residents, who have lost their sources of income during this time and who are not able to provide for their families. The Western Cape Department of Education launched its emergency school feeding programme last week and our schools were some of the first to benefit. We are so very thankful for this critical assistance to the well-being of our children in particular.
I am also very grateful for our wonderful partners who have stepped up with the #StellenboschUnite initiative. Stellenbosch Unite is a collaborative aid action purposed to provide social support to vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration brings together Stellenbosch Municipality, Stellenbosch University, Visit Stellenbosch (civil society), SCAN (Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network, representing the non-profit sector) and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust (administrators). As a first priority, Stellenbosch Unite will be supplying weekly food packages to identified vulnerable families. I encourage all residents who are able to make a contribution toStellenbosch Unite to visit www.stellenboschunite.org . All the relevant information is also available from our municipal website (www.stellenbosch.gov.za) as well as our social media pages.
Our traffic and law enforcement officials, along with our Stellenbosch Safety Initiative (SSI) were instrumental in apprehending three suspects involved in a local liquor store robbery. We are grateful for their speedy action and assistance and the important work they are doing to ensure law and order prevail during this time.
This is a critical time for our community and our country. Adhering to the various lockdown protocols are extremely important. If we fail to adhere to the lockdown period now, we will be faced with an even greater and more severe challenge in future. I am therefore pleading with every one of our residents, PLEASE STAY AT HOME! You are all part of our precious community and we want to see you safe and healthy.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to all essential staff working during this difficult time. This includes our medical staff, law enforcement officials, municipal staff and supermarket staff. Please thank them wherever you encounter them, they are sacrificing their safety for ours.
On 23 April 2020, the month of Ramadan will begin for our Muslim residents. Please take every precaution to stay healthy during the fast. May this be a time of peace and illumination for you and your family. Ramadan Mubarak.
The expectation is that the current national lockdown restrictions may be relaxed at the end of the month. Please continue to STAY INDOORS if possible, RESTRICT SOCIAL CONTACT, WASH YOUR HANDS and KEEP SAFE..
It is sad but indisputable that we have been hit very hard by the outbreak of COVID-19. I know however, that we are a resilient, courageous and caring community who tackles all challenges with innovation and determination. I have no doubt that our community will therefore make it through this crisis, more resilient and stronger than before.
According to the information provided by the Provincial Government, 16 residents in the greater municipal area have tested positive for the virus (as at 5 April 2020). The health department has taken the necessary steps to isolate and treat these cases and they continue to monitor the situation closely. COVID-19 testing and screenings are being rolled out nationally and the Western Cape Government launched this program on Sunday, 5 April 2020. Health workers will soon be visiting our region. Community Healthcare workers will be identifiable by their uniforms and ID cards. Please request the person’s credentials as part of the rigorous safety precautions. I urge you to cooperate with them and to be patient. They are risking their safety to ensure ours, and we thank them for their sacrifice.
We are continuing our efforts to encourage good hygiene to limit the spread of the virus. We will therefore be installing twenty additional water tanks across our municipal area this week. These tanks have a 5000 litre capacity and will be installed in strategic areas including Enkanini, Watergang, Langrug and Meerlust. The tanks will be fitted with fittings that will allow 5 taps to run at a time. We will fill these tanks on a daily basis to ensure that all our residents have access to clean, safe water sources. Our sincere thanks to the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements that made these additional tanks available to us.
We are also cleaning and sanitising public spaces. This is part of our efforts to protect the health and well-being of our community. Our teams have already cleaned and disinfected the Stellenbosch CBD and the Bergzicht taxi rank. This program will be rolled out across the region and will focus on sidewalks and streets in town as well as taxi ranks in Kayamandi, Klapmuts and Franschhoek. The focus is on areas where there are a lot of foot traffic and includes trash cans and public seating areas. We want our residents and visitors to feel safe and secure in their environment.
Essential services continues during this time and I want to sincerely thank all our staff who are working on the front lines every day to make sure that our communities are cleaned and that services continue uninterrupted. The process was however not without its challenges and as you know we experienced some difficulty with regards to solid waste removal. These issues are now resolved and we worked very hard to clear the backlog and continue services.
All our administrative staff continue to work from home to make sure any queries or problems are addressed. Our call centre and emergency numbers are also manned throughout this time and residents can call or e-mail us. We also have a dedicated WhatsApp that is manned 24/7.
As a municipality, we have taken bold steps to reduce the economic impact on our residents, particularly our most vulnerable residents and a decision was made to assist our communities in the following way:
We have also made provision for homeless residents in the region. They are being accommodated at a local facility and are being provided with meals, security and sanitation services.
The Municipality is working with SCAN, the Stellenbosch University, Visit Stellenbosch and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust and various NGO’s as #StellenboschUnite to help our most vulnerable residents during this time. Many residents have lost their income due to the lockdown. With the #StellenboschUnite initiative we want to supply weekly food packages to identified vulnerable families. A basic provision food parcel will be provided to a minimum of 2500 homes per week across our entire region. To be successful in our efforts we will need at least R250 000 per week. Any person wanting to assist can make a donation to the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust. All the details about the project and the account details are on our website (www.stellenbosch.gov.za) and on our Facebook page.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to each and every one who has been sharing our message of STAY AT HOME, and who has given their cooperation during this lockdown period. Thank you also for the assistance you have given to help those less fortunate in our communities. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to all our health workers, law enforcement workers and our own municipal staff who form part of essential services and must go out every day. We are so grateful for the amazing work you are doing to serve and protect us.
Please continue to STAY at HOME and help us beat COVID 19.
In the words of the old gospel song: “We shall overcome!”
Stay safe, stay at home!