South Africa

Junior mayor leads Magnolia Dell clean-up

The Junior City Council (JCC) led by junior mayor Leandre Smith conducted a clean-up of the Magnolia Dell area this past weekend as part of their community service project.

The project was launched in collaboration with the office of the Mayor of Tshwane and comprised 200 primary and high schools in Tshwane.

“I think one thing that’s very important is there isn’t a lot of responsible citizenship in Pretoria. We all like to fight about the outcomes of competitions and elections, but we don’t take action day to day and that’s why this project is called ‘Serving In Action,” said Smith.

“By taking responsibility for yourself as a citizen, you don’t need to become president. You don’t need to be a CEO of a company to take action and make a difference, you can just do your bit by just picking up papers, recycling and just being active in your community,” she said.

The JCC is comprised of grades 10 to 12 learners from 40 different high schools in the metro. Smith said that the council is apolitical and comprises members from different walks of life.

Throughout her tenure as junior mayor, Smith said her administration has laid a lot of groundwork for going forward with project management post-Covid.

It donated R35 000 worth of stationery to Rephafogile Secondary School in Mamelodi last Youth Day and 1 000 stationary packs to a primary school in Hammanskraal shortly after.

“All of that is just preparation for our next term, to create different opportunities for learners that are marginalised or don’t have the right support structure around them. I feel like everyone deserves an equal chance in our society,” she said.

Smith said she looks forward to matriculating at Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool Pretoria (AHMP) this year. She plans to study law and hopes it will be a stepping stone forward in a career path she hopes will help others.

“I think, no, I feel that you are as a person must take action. It’s not about getting a group together and then trying to create something great. I think that if you commit to being a role player in our community then you can make a difference by literally picking up paper or cutting grass,” Smith said.

Fellow council member and AHMP learner, Amore Knoetze, said the current state of the park leaves much to be desired and they hope to return it to its former glory.

“It’s very dirty and I think it always was a special place for people to come to. I know there were markets and everything and everyone just forgot about it. So, we thought about renovating it, cleaning it up so everyone knows about the park again and they can come to enjoy it,” Knoetze said.

“It might seem like something that’s impossible to do but when you put it out there and have so many people that come out to help, it can become a reality and you can make a change,” she said.

AHMP history teacher, Marthie Davel, expressed a sense of pride over Smith as junior mayor and over their learners carrying out the initiative.

“I think it’s incredible because it’s something we all see every day when we drive past it and we don’t do anything and here comes the youth to say ‘let’s get involved’ and ‘let’s do something’ – it’s wonderful. I think it will become more and more popular. The youth are the leaders of tomorrow and I think that a big problem is that we all sit back and expect someone else must do it, but let’s get involved and let’s fix things,” Davel said.

She said the school looks forward to conducting more outreach programmes and hopes to conduct the clean-up at least once a month. She commended the security from the city council, Axon Private Security and the police for keeping the girls safe.

“I think it’s important to take ownership of the areas around us and we can turn Pretoria into a clean, beautiful area,” said Davel.

During the holidays we were in Mozambique and Barra is one of the famous destinations there. They had an initiative since December to clean up the area and have collected tons of litter. You can’t believe how it’s changed from December to now. So maybe it’s time for us to stand up and fix things and stop waiting for someone else to do [it],” she said.

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