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  • Writer's pictureHoedspruit Chamber Sakekamer

Newsletter - September 2023

September was yet another eventful month in Hoedspruit and like always we are here to report on the good, the bad and the ugly.... Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one, but always worth it.


BIG hearts of Hoedspruit

The Ba-Phalaborwa community was shook by a ravaging veld fire that caused absolute havoc in Phalaborwa town. Many households were affected by losing part of their homes and others lost everything entirely. Community organisations in Hoedspruit and other towns were quick to respond and Hoedies opened their hearts once again to those in need.
LOADS of donations were received from residents and deliveries made quickly to the disaster relief centre set up by Phalaborwa residents.
The overwhelming support came from all sides and the families received the much needed relief they so desperately needed.
HCS would like to thank every organisation, business & person that got involved with this effort. Thank you for your kind hearted gestures, your selfless giving, your prayers and support for those families. There are very few places in our country that can compare with the amazing generosity that our town shows time and time again. THANK YOU all!
We would like to offer the affected families our sincerest condolences for your loss and hope that you are able to rebuild your homes and family amidst this horrible tragedy. May God bless you!

From bad to worse - the rates debacle

Hoedspruit residents have gone to great lengths to make their objections heard after they have received their latest municipal statements. Social media has been buzzing with outrage and boycott threats. The question remains, is your objection valid and what can be done?
Let’s take a look at the lengths that the local municipality and the community organisations has gone to, to notify residents of the valuation process:
GVR = General Valuation Roll
  • 14 November 2022 – Notice on the GVR - the municipality put out a notice to property owners about the compilation of the new valuation roll for 2023-2028 in terms of Section 41 (1). (A Valuation roll is updated every 5 years.)

  • 26 November 2022 – Valuation Roll Update on the Hoedspruit Town FB page – Botha Lovegrove Inc wrote a letter to explain the valuation process and the rights of residents and valuators during the valuation of a property.

  • 10 January 2023 – Maruleng Rate Payer’s Meeting – residents were invited in December to the annual rate payer’s meeting to ask questions about the property valuations and property rates. Out of the whole Maruleng area, only 48 people attended the meeting. Minutes was taken by HCS and distributed via whatsapp groups.

  • 12 January 2023 – Courtesy Public Notice – property owners requested to submit their queries about the GVR from 13 January to 12 February 2023 and apply for incentives from 13 January to 31 April 2023.

  • 17 January 2023 – Supplementary valuation roll was circulated on whatsapp groups.

  • 18 January 2023 – GVR for 2017 to 2023 was circulated on as many whatsapp groups.

  • 4 April 2023 – Public Notice calling for inspection of the GVR – residents were invited to view the GVR and lodge their objections from 14 April to 31 May 2023.

  • 13 April 2023 – Notice on draft rates policy – The resolution of rates passed was made public and the community requested to comment on the revision from 17 April to 26 May 2023.

  • 14 April 2023 – Certified GVR2023 was posted on the Hoedspruit Town FB Group.

  • 10 May 2023 – IDP/Budget Public participation – Residents were invited to the meeting to hear about the new budget and give them a chance to raise any concerns or ask questions. MLM and MDM officials answered questions.

  • 18 May 2023 – A friendly reminder by HCS was posted on Facebook pages to remind residents to check the valuation roll and lodge their objections before 31 May 2023.

From the above it is clear that there was no lack of communication or invitations to the public to attend meetings, ask questions or raise objections. The real question is why didn’t residents raise queries or objections during this time – or show up for meetings? To that, the answer is unclear. An educated guess based on informal feedback is that the community has lost their faith in municipal processes and service delivery so they don’t think that their attendance or objections will have any bearing on the outcome of processes or policies like these.

This premise is incorrect but has been a tried and tested activity for many residents all over South Africa. We believe our discussions and complaints around braai fires and on social media will change the outcome of issues and service delivery. But what influence does it have if not raised in public participation forums or via purposeful organisations? The simple answer is NONE.

What to do now?
  1. Objections can only be raised for your own property(s) and not against the entire valuation roll.

  2. If you have raised your objection in time and have not received feedback – the municipality has asked for time until 30 September to send feedback. (A notice has been circulated by MLM about objections on 2 October - please see our Facebook page or the notices area for the details)

  3. If you have raised your concern and don’t agree with the feedback. Raise a dispute. A copy of a template letter can be obtained from hoedspruitcs@gmail.com

  4. If you have not raised/submitted your concern, contact the accounts department or the municipal manager to ask what recourse to take by providing them with as much information as possible.

Once the feedback period has lapsed and disputes have been submitted, we will consult with affiliate organisations on recourse for residents who were not assisted. We will never turn a blind eye to residents or businesses, but we are respectful towards the legal processes involved in valuation processes. Patience is a virtue.
HCS would like to thank the Maruleng accounts & valuations department and the Municipal Manager for making yourselves available to answer questions, provide feedback and assist residents. The community appreciates you!

So fresh and so clean!

Hoedies were called to arms to join World Cleanup Day and did not disappoint.... Young and old was part of the effort to clean up our town. Ward 1 and HCS decided to make it a fun challenge and asked teams to enter. The team with the most votes on Facebook would win a R2500 cash prize. The winner with the most votes was Laerskool Drakensig Primary. Congratulations! A special mention to all the other participants/teams - we were all winners at the end of the day. Hoedspruit thanks you from the bottom of their hearts. Take a look at the teams who participated. Apologies to team Innigat who was overlooked during the photo posts and posted their own photos - thank you for participating!

A taste of what's to come

There are a few news worthy items to report on but the details are still a bit vague or not ready for full blown news stories. We just wanted to let you know that we have our finger on the pulse and we are ready to take action or report as soon as we have more information.

ILLEGAL DUMPING

We are working with authorities to fight the battle against illegal dumping as this horrible tendency has seemingly been on the increase. We will be releasing a document to assist residents & contractors to exercise legal dumping and will make sure that everyone knows about the fines applicable for not following the rules.
If you happen upon a culprit - please take photos/videos, take down any information about the vehicle, date, time and anything else. Send the information to us and we will make sure that it gets reported to the correct authority.

ROAD CLEANUP

Zibi
Littering is and always has will be a big problem in SA.
Recently more residents and road users have taken the time to keep an eye out for litter along our main roads. Authorities have been asked to assist and even though the work is far from complete, we would like to thank SANRAL, RAL and MLM for arranging for cleanups at reported areas.
We would like to ask drivers & passengers in vehicles to please refrain from throwing your rubbish out of your vehicle on the roads. Wait until you get to a dustbin, and then get rid of it. Don't make us "resurrect" Zibi to come and kick you in the behind.... (Who remembers this old classic? >>>)

SEWARAGE

The total lack of assistance from authorities about the Sewerage problem that has been prevalent at Le Bamba and Raptors over the past few years has reached its boiling point. A complaint has been lain with the Human Rights commission a while back and SABC even did a news story on it. We tried to open a criminal case or objection against Mopani District Municipality (MDM) but the police refused. The police did however open an enquiry to which no feedback has been received yet.
The matter has been escalated to multiple parties for assistance and we will provide feedback as soon as we have heard back from them.
The Department of Water & Sanitation has also done an investigation and wrote a letter to express their intent to undertake administrative enforcement against MDM as determined in section 19(3) and 53(1) of the NWA. They are an ally in the interest of responsible water resource management and we commend them for taking this step.
HCS recently attended the 6th large water meeting led by DOD whereby a plan of action is being formulated on what the future holds for Hoedspruit town in the water & sewerage hierarchy going forward. We are optimistic that the new plan will provide residents with a better solution and will provide the much needed maintenance management that is the cause of many of the recent problems. We hope to do a press release with the permission from relevant departments after the next meeting. We will keep you posted.

ESSEX PUMP AREA CLEANUP

Speaking about the lack of maintenance... The Essex pump area is in dire need of some TLC in the form of bush clearing and general cleanup. HCS would like to ask the construction businesses in town if they are able to assist with this project which will be done independently from DPWI and at our own risk. We deemed it necessary before the current rate of decline reaches a point of no return. We will put out a request to the community for assistance after we have made a list of what is necessary. Be on the lookout and let us know if you can assist.

Identity fraud

Scams for Xmas...

If you have never been scammed, count yourself lucky. Scams are always on the increase before the holiday period - probably because everyone deserves a Barbados holiday in December...haha.
There are ample warnings about phishing, fraud and petty scams, but many seem to forget about identity theft (because it only happens in the movies, right?).
Scammers have upped their game and has gone to great lengths to create extremely elaborate scams to collect information for identity theft of businesses. Yes, businesses. If you would rather be safe than sorry, click on this link to do protective registration of your ID with the South African Fraud Prevention Service. The process is simple and relatively quick and you will receive your registration letter within 3 days. We would suggest that every individual and business owner does this as soon as possible. There is no cost involved. Alternatively, if you have been caught in a scam, register it on the YIMA site to help protect or warn others.
The link: CLICK HERE (This is a secure link if your search engine asks you to authorise before continuing to the page)
For more information or to report a scam, please visit www.safps.org.za

That's it for September. May your October be blessed with sunny days! Take care of yourself and each other.


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