Setting the record straight

Eppie McFarlane,
Somerset West

As the president of the Rotary Club of Somerset West, and as a fairly long standing resident of the community that we call the Helderberg, I take grave exception to the insinuations made in the letter from Lisa Balz.

The writer highlights how something good can come from something bad, and while I agree with that statement, she goes on to focus on the frontline media attention community projects in communities other than the Helderberg have received, suggesting that nothing has been happening in the Helderberg.

I am surprised that you did not add an editor’s note to the effect that Bolander has also published multiple stories with details of many of the Helderberg community projects, of people that have worked tirelessly in the community to assist the vulnerable during this time, which Ms Balz seems to have missed.

Therefore the first point of my response is to inform residents of the Helderberg, who wish to know, that there are countless examples of combined efforts to assist the community.

These unsung heroes include service clubs like the four Rotary clubs in the Helderberg, Round Table, Lions as well as churches, schools, crèches, soup kitchens and organizations like Helderberg Crime Watch (HWC), who all work collaboratively, in smaller and larger circles of collaboration, to provide help to feed the hungry.

And many of the City of Cape Town councillors are closely connected to the activities in their wards.

I will give you an example: Councillor Stuart Pringle contacted The Rotary Club of Somerset West on Saturday morning to appeal for assistance – to provide replacement roofing sheets which had blown off houses in Sir Lowry’s Pass in the storm.

He had obtained a quote from a local supplier and within hours had achieved collaboration to assist.

Many volunteers collaborate need, collect and deliver food parcels and lunch packs, and go way beyond the call of duty. Without expecting frontline publicity.

While Ms Balz implies that many donors provide assistance patronisingly, there are countless examples of answers her questions which she does not include.

The Helderberg area has, for many years, had active community involvement by NGOs, service clubs, churches, organizations and volunteers in the field of skills development, job creation and upliftment of the poor and vulnerable.

The major problem, however, is that the need far outstrips the help available.

In addition, central government’s predilection for state capture, money laundering and poor law enforcement has not exactly improved the situation.

Yes, Ms Balz, in five years the Utopian Helderberg and indeed South Africa could be a truly magnificent place.

In reality, Covid-19 has added to our woes.

I am most encouraged by what I have seen during the last three months – communities and organisations have pulled together magnificently, quietly and without expecting frontline publicity.

Should this continue, with a little help from all these friends, the Helderberg definitely has a future.

Should anyone wish to be involved in developing potential in our community, follow The Rotary Club of Somerset West on Facebook, or email

Thank you for your response, Eppie, and clarifying the great good that is being done, and achieved, in this area and beyond, by committed individuals and organisations. See an example below – Ed