Where should our children play?
Joburg city's brand-new R6m park was targeted by vandals days after its opening
Two days after Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo opened a brand new park in Yeoville, it was targeted by vandals.
On April 4, the city opened the Bellview and Cavendish Park in Yeoville at a cost of R6-million. The park has been packed with children since its opening.
By Sunday, April 8, five different parts of the fence around an artificial soccer pitch at Cavendish Park had been pulled down.
“Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo is saddened by the deliberate vandalising of the two parks in Bellevue and in Yeoville that were recently launched. Unfortunately, socio-economic challenges have placed an added burden on public spaces where homelessness, substance abuse and loitering have resulted in reports of theft and vandalism in parks,” said Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo spokesperson Jenny Moodley.She added that long before the opening of the park, communities were consulted so they could take ownership of the facility and help ensure it is not vandalised.
“Communities were advised on the design elements, were included in the job creation elements of the rollout of the park and JCPZ conducted a door-to-door environmental campaign to educate residents on the importance of parks.
“This formed part of the backdrop to the launch of the park held on April 4 where all speakers reinforced the need for communities to become active, protect their park and report service shortfalls and suspicious activity in the park. The MMC for community development, Councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba, advised that sadly the perpetrators of these crimes are denying children a right to a space that they can play in,” she said.
Moodley urged the communities of Yeoville and Bellview to put in place a Friends of the Park committee to zealously protect these new parks.
“Space to play in, socialise at and to reflect in is critical especially in Bellevue and Yeoville where there are communities living mostly in densely populated high-rise buildings.”
Cavendish Park consists of a pathway (650m²), grass, fencing, a stage, an outdoor gym, playground equipment, rubberised surface play equipment and a skateboard ramp have been added to the park. The grass area takes up approximately 2,000m².
When Times Select visited the park on Monday, it was packed with children, barely noticing the vandalism. Boys were showing off their skills on the soccer pitch while some children sat on the part of the wall where the fence had been removed.