Sea View

“We don’€™t have race problems here. We are fortunate because we have very decent neighbours. You can see by the cars they are driving that they are earning good salaries.”

Chris Botha, 73, has lived in Seaview for the past 60 years. He remembers when the Southway Mall was nothing but a grove of mango trees, and Indian people were removed from Titren Road in the 1960s.

“In the old days, mostly railway and post office workers lived here. Most people owned their properties, and that is the same today,” says Botha, who for years was employed by the old Bantu Administration Department.

Botha bought the land on which his house is built for R4 000. His house cost R13 500 to build.

“Since 1994, a lot of other coloured people have moved in. The older people have accepted it, because that is how Seaview was before the Indians were removed.”

According to Durban City Council figures (mostly based on the 1996 Census), 55,4% of Seaview residents are white, 26% black and 12,8% Indian. About 20% of residents are over the age of 50.

Botha has been involved in civic matters since 1972 when he launched the Seaview Ratepayers’€™ Association. Back then, he says, the council reacted far speedier to complaints.

“There was one guy we could complain to. We could phone him and he would sort things out. Now you phone the council and get passed from one department to another.”

A complicating factor has been the fact that the Demarcation Board carved Seaview up into three different wards, which are controlled by councillors from different parties who don’€™t work together to develop the area

“Services have deteriorated to such an extent that we are worried. The ratepayers feel that if this was Durban North, we would be getting better services.”

However, Botha says that the council has promised to establish regional managers for different areas in the unicity, which would at least ensure that residents knew who to go to with the complaints.

Complaints include missing storm water drain covers, overgrown trees obscuring motorists’€™ vision, uncut verges, electricity cuts caused by the theft of copper wire.

Perhaps the biggest concern, says Botha, are “the squatters near the railway bridge” and the informal settlement in neighbouring Bellair which has mushroomed in short period of time to over 300 families.

“In the old days, we had influx control so there wasn’€™t this problem. Now they are a real nuisance.”

Declining health services are also of concern to the aging population. A municipal mobile clinic visits the area once a week and treats about 100 people a time. Those with more serious health problems need to go to King Edward Hospital.

“The railway medical aid is not what it used to be, so the old railway workers have to go to King Edward. And there the wait for operations is very long.”

Despite the problems, Botha stresses that there has been a “smooth transition” in his suburb since the ANC took control of the country in 1994.

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