Residents asked to protect their park

Cabling has been stolen from the spotlights in the park.

Residents are being asked to take ownership of the Gemsbok park in Fourth Avenue, Lotus River, after wooden equipment was installed there three weeks ago.

There are now fears that the park will be vandalised as it had been when an outdoor gym, costing approximately R300 000, was built there in 2014.

It had taken thieves only three months to start carrying away the metal frames and the City had eventually decided to remove the gym equipment altogether.

The vandalism of the rest of the park continued as locks have been broken off the gates and cables have been stolen from the spotlights, while paving stones are being removed from the ground.

Homeless people sleep in the park and it is even alleged that gang and drug activities take place there.

Lyle Lawrence, a Lotus River resident and community worker, said winter rains had made the park look like a swimming pool as bricks had been stolen from the ground.

“The City put bins in the park but they are making bonfires in the bins, the bricks removed are being sold, the benches are being removed and taken to the scrap yards,” said Mr Lawrence.

He works closely with Ward 62 councillor Patricia van der Ross and said while there had been talks in the last meetings about a new cricket pitch to be built on the Gemsbok park grounds, they are urging the community to take ownership of the space.

“Somebody should come and say that they will lock the gates at certain times”, said Mr Lawrence.

“A new wooden park has been put up about three weeks ago and gang activities have subsided but we fear that they will soon start vandalising this wooden park. The community is scared to come forward with any information of who the perpetrators are and this is what the councillor wants, she wants people to come forward so that the complaints can be logged and law enforcement can follow up and investigate. The City of Cape Town would like to upgrade the park but I do not think it will work if residents are not going to take ownership,” said Mr Lawrence.

Ms Van Der Ross urged the community to take responsibility. “We have just added a wooden structure in the Gemsbok park that was vandalised after one day. We need to start taking responsibility as a community and not allow this vandalism. As the City of Cape Town we will continue to build and uplift our community. We will not let the few that break down stop the growth in Ward 65. In saying that I want to thank Lyle and the community of Fourth Avenue and Gemsbok for always letting me know that there are issues. Progress will only happen when we work together like we are doing now,” said Ms Van Der Ross.

Spokesperson for Grassy Park police, Wynita Kleinsmith said that no incidents at the park had been reported to them.

“Regular patrols are happening in the broader Grassy Park. All criminal activities should be reported at Grassy Park SAPS,” she said.