Park burned in ‘arson’

2015-08-11 06:00
Pillars are all that remain of the lapa in Paradise Park, New Woodlands after an alleged arson attack on Friday last week.  

Samantha Lee

Pillars are all that remain of the lapa in Paradise Park, New Woodlands after an alleged arson attack on Friday last week. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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A second attempt at vandalising Paradise Park was successful on Friday last week as the lapa was burned down in the early hours of the morning.

The Katrine Harries Close park in New Woodlands was set alight in what community members are calling “a revenge attack”.

Franklin Brawood, the developer of the park, says he has no doubt that this was arson.

“This is the second time, and this time it was successful,” he says.

Brawood believes an accelerant was used, as it rained heavily that night.

“There is no electricity here so there is no way this could have caught alight other than someone setting the fire,” he says.

His theory is supported by the fact that the fire started on the top of the lapa, which is made of dried palm leaves.

Brawood was woken by his wife at 02:30 and told that the park was on fire.

Residents attempted to extinguish the flames but were unable to do so with just water.

“Last time they did this we were able to put the flames out with just our hose pipes. This time it was too strong,” he says.

The park was developed in 2013 and many events and concerts have been hosted there.

Residents were planning to celebrate the park’s second anniversary this past weekend, but the celebration has had to be pushed back due to the damages.

All that remains are the pillars and some burnt beams and nails.

Brawood estimates the cost of the damages at R2000.

The park was built through donations and was intended for the upliftment of the community, says subforum chairperson Basil Coetzee.

“The subforum condemns any act of sabotage or destruction of structures. One of the objectives of community policing is to take back our open spaces and streets and we condemn any criminal behaviour that undermines this,” he says.

Coetzee adds that several weeks ago, the park had once again become a hub for illicit behaviour and had not been used by the community.

“The park itself is for the community and when individuals contribute from our resources to uplift the community it should be appreciated and not destroyed,” he says.

“We call on the community to come forward with information that will lead to the successful conviction of those responsible.”

Plans are in place to see the park rehabilitated.

“The park is for the community and many are heartbroken by what has happened,” he says.

Coetzee urges residents to take ownership and work with the police to prevent such acts from recurring.

“There has been gambling, loitering and drug use at the park recently. We will not hesitate to engage any mechanism to put a stop to this behaviour,” he says.

Plans to make the park a part of an official tour for visitors to the area have been put on hold.

If you would like to help in rehabilitating the park through donations of materials or labour, call Coetzee on 073 886 3678.

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