Grass not greener for Parkwood residents

William Akim shows how tall the grass along Walmer Street has grown.

Parkwood residents say they have become targets for criminals because of a tender process issue at the City of Cape Town which has left grass at parks and open spaces being left uncut for almost two months.

Residents using the open field running along Prince George Drive and Walmer Road to go to work or Southfield station say they are “sitting ducks”.

Susan Lenders, 69, said she almost became a victim when she was on her way to get her pension money earlier this month.

“I was walking to the shop to collect my money at about 7am in the morning when two men jumped out of the grass and tried to rob me and a few other people. I didn’t have any money but if I did they would have taken it.

“”Now I have to send my son to get my money because I’m afraid I might get robbed on that field the next time I go get my pension. It’s the only money we get in the house and I cannot afford for it to be taken,” she said.

A resident who lives opposite the field says she has witnessed several robberies since the grass has grown so high.

“Every day we hear people screaming and complaining when these criminals rob them. We see it happening but we can’t do anything about it because we might get attacked too,” she said.

Raeesa Adams was on her way to work last week when a man jumped out of the grass and robbed her.

“It was at about 6.30am but it wasn’t that dark. He came out of nowhere and grabbed my bag. The high grass is a serious problem because I’m not the only one who has been robbed there,” she said.

“The City needs to do something soon. I don’t understand why they are taking so long because they can use people from Parkwood to cut the grass instead of waiting on tender processes. That way they can kill two birds with one stone, make us feel safer and create jobs,” said Ms Adams.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim said the issue is affecting communities all over Cape Town.

“There are some issues in procuring a tender for a new contractor for mowing in the City metros but I want to ensure residents that the issue will be resolved as soon as possibe. In the meantime, I urge residents to be careful when using the field,” said Mr Akim.

Every three years, the City Parks department appoints contractors to undertake the mowing of road verges and public open spaces.

This contract ended last year and the department granted an extention until a tender process was to be processed. The City has, however, not been able to appoint new contractors due to an appeal that was lodged by one of the companies.

No time frame was given but the City Parks deparment has been working overtime to cut grass in various areas.

Smaller contractors are also being hired on a short-term basis to mow all areas across the city.

Mr Akim added that people need to report robberies so that police can increase patrols at the hot spots.

Grassy Park police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith, agreed.

“Since the beginning of the year only two cases have been reported. Our officers as well as the neighbourhood watches patrol the area but we need the community’s help. It’s people from Parkwood who are robbing others but residents don’t report the cases for fear of being victimised,” she said.

Warrant Officer Kleinsmith urged people to walk in groups, to be vigilant when crossing the field and to report robberies.

She made the example of a 75-year-old woman who was robbed on Thursday September 1.

“The complainant was walk- ing in Eric Viljoen Street, Parkwood, when she was approached by someone known to her. He pushed her to the ground and took all her pension money. She made a case and the suspect was arrested and charged with robbery.”

To report crimes in the area, call 021 700 3940 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.