Scene 10: Subcouncil Meeting Eases Worries


This meeting was our first interaction with the subcouncil chairperson, Felicity Purchase, whose subcouncil 7de Laan belonged to. Before this meeting we had heard many conflicting thoughts about this project, specifically whether it would involve a fourth community, Masincedane, and if reblocking was a possibility. We also had serious concerns about the presentation of the reblocking to the community, if it was an all-or-nothing decision that forced people or people could choose to be included or not.

Cast of Characters

WPI Project Team Members: Charles, Jason
WPI Professors: Scott Jiusto, Lorraine Higgins
City Employees: Anneline Plaaitjies, Estralita Kwalo, Reggie O’Brien, Siraaj, Waleed, Mlungisi
Subcouncil Chairperson: Felicity Purchase
Subcouncil Manager: Desiree Mentor


The City of Cape Town Fish Hoek municipal offices.


We were nervous as we first entered the conference room – after hearing numerous conflicting accounts of our project’s scope in the past week, some of them well beyond what we could reasonably do, this meeting was our best chance to find some clarity on the project we had already invested a week and a half of work into. The subcouncil chair running the meeting, Felicity Purchase, was the most senior person we expected to work with. That meant that she was the person most able to pull the project from vagueness into something concrete, and enable the public meeting and committee elections that were needed to move forward.

The meeting was stressful for us at first, with subcouncillor Purchase seeming very focused on our credentials and areas of study. Since we have no background in this kind of work, it was unclear whether she would take us seriously. Luckily she seemed to be unconcerned after hearing about the project center and Prof. Jiusto’s experience from previous years.

Once the meeting turned to the Strandfontein project it quickly became clear that this meeting would bring the clarity we had been missing. Many decisions were made in the relatively short meeting that significantly benefited our project: (1) Masincedane would not be included, (2) reblocking is possible, (3) Plot 9 and City Mission would be encourage but not forced to relocate to 7de Laan, (4) the public meeting would be scheduled for the next Monday, and (5) a project steering committee and co-researchers would be elected.

This was a relief because the sudden appearance of these questions over the previous week had created a lot of doubt about how our project would move forward. Now that they were answered we would be able to plan for the remaining weeks. The way that subcouncillor Purchase directly addressed the issues, and her willingness to engage in negotiation in terms of approaches, also made us more confident to be working with her. The only major question left was whether the community would decide to work with us.


This meeting was an important turning point in our project. We went in with many questions, but came out with concrete answers about the future of our project. The stage was set from the government, we just had to get the community to agree to the project.