In the spotlight - Hillbrow

© The Star

By Anna Cox

The recent murder of two Hillbrow building managers will not deter the Johannesburg Housing Company and other landlords from their mission of cleaning up and securing the area.

So said JHC chairperson Murphy Morobe this week, at the opening of the R3,5-million refurbished Hillbrow building, Rondebosch, which is close to Park Mews where the two men were killed.

The Ekhaya Neighbourhood Programme, which was recently established in the Pietersen Street precinct, would continue, he said. Ekhaya is a pilot project where the owners of 25 of 33 buildings in a five-block area are working together to address problems such as crime, grime, increasing and improving municipal services, and other issues such as lack of parks and recreational facilities.

"The owners are aiming to organise a thriving neighbourhood to sustain the economic and social wellbeing of its residents, workers and visitors... The violence has not weakened the resolve of Ekhaya," he said.

Hillbrow is a critical resource for Johannesburg.

It houses over 100 000 people in 200 buildings and is the only area of the city which operates 24 hours a day. It is a major entry point for people from all over the country and the continent, he said.

Rondebosch has 77 rooms and bachelor flats, catering for people who earn under R3 500 a month.

The JHC will be establishing, in a first, a multi-purpose centre in the building which will include an ITC centre to be run by its development arm, Makhulong a Mtala. It will offer life and employment skills for young people in the Hillbrow area.

The JHC, a pioneer in social housing, purchased the building under the City of Johannesburg's Better Building Programme. This is the second building it is renovating in Hillbrow under this project, the first one being Lake Success, which was a cesspool of crime and violence before it was renovated at a cost of R7-million.

The company has purchased another six buildings in Hillbrow, which will be refurbished in future.

With Rondebosch, the JHC has 2 377 units, just over 8% of the entire housing stock in the inner city. It recently also completed the first phase of the Brickfields Housing project in Newtown.