Pretoria – The developers of a new precinct in Waterkloof similar to Waterfall City in Midrand say they hope to begin construction in May.
The Atterbury Property Developers project will, however, be on a different scale to Waterfall City, and occupy an 85 hectare site, including the site used by waste pickers and recyclers.
It will be developed in a joint venture with the Erasmus Trust on the last portion of the original Waterkloof farm in Pretoria, owned by the Erasmus family.
James Ehlers, managing director of Atterbury, said the development was on track. The first phase consists of a 23 000m² lifestyle shopping centre, 4000m² office block and a gym.
The centre, Castle Gate, is planned to open in October next year and will put 50-odd waste pickers out of jobs. It is planned to have an open-air restaurant area and a park-like feel.
A medical precinct will make up the rest of the first phase. “We are in talks with a group of private hospitals that plan to put together a cluster of five specialist hospitals,” Ehlers said.
“As for office space, we have around 85000m² planned and are already in talks to finalise the first buildings. The last component of the development will be residential, comprising about 1200 housing units.”
Ehlers said demand was already strong. “We are talking to specific retailers who want to be part of this development and there is a huge demand for housing in the area.
“We expect different facets of the project to be constructed simultaneously, which will result in a bustling construction site.”
However, the pickers say they fear they may have to return to a life of crime when the development of the multibillion-rand development starts.
They drag big sacks along Solomon Mahlangu Drive every day and enter their informal recycling depot in a open veld for sorting.
Siphiwe Nkabinde from Winterveld said he collected recyclables because he was tired of being in and out jail and did not want to get into crime anymore.
“I’d rather recycle instead of stealing and robbing people again. I’ve lived that life, and it’s dark and dangerous, plus I make decent money in this business, so I’m satisfied,” he said.
Thuto Dichabe from Mamelodi emphasised that there were no jobs and he’d rather recycle because no qualifications were needed.
“This new mall is going to take food out of our mouths. Some people don’t like doing crime, it’s just there’s no job opportunities. We have no qualification and our families have to eat and children go to school to get qualifications and get jobs,” he said.
Waterkloof BP service station manager Jacques Louw had to get assistance from the City of Tshwane to move the recyclers who were operating opposite his business.
They were moved a few meters away. Huge heaps of recyclable material such as plastic, steel, paper and rubber could be seen in the field.
But residents were not appeased by the recyclers’ appeal and said they were the cause of the criminal activities that had been happening in the area.
Residents and local business claimed crimes such as burglaries had increased in the area since the recyclers set up camp. Some said they had to beef up security as a result.
Large heaps of plastic bottles and cardboard lay scattered on the open veld behind the street traders selling sculptures and paintings.
The recyclers hoped they would be absorbed in the construction of the mall, they said, and get permanent jobs as waste disposers there.
“We are yet to approach the property developers,” said Nkabinde.
Ward councillor Juan van Buuren said a task team from Tshwane and provincial government had already been set up to look for a suitable place for the recyclers. He said the area in which the recyclers were operating was a provincial road reserve.