Seeking solution for park

2016-05-10 06:00

A fence may go up around Muizenberg Park, if the R750 000 funding required to install it can be obtained.

The fence is a reaction to increasing incidents of vagrancy and crime at the park, says subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase.

Reports of vagrancy, theft, theft out of motor vehicles, damage to property in the park as well as to private property – such as cars parked in the area – and aggressive begging are just some emanating from the park, Purchase says. The initial quote to fence the park at the back and on the side of Camp Road came in at just under R750 000. The fence will not be installed opposite the Muizenberg Police station, but this may be fenced at a later date, she says.

Muizenberg Police spokesperson Captain Stephen Knapp says there have been reports of drug abuse in the park.

“Muizenberg police do not receive many complaints, but we do however on a regular basis conduct searches of persons loitering in the park. Recently two suspects were arrested for being in possession of narcotics and a third suspect, a juvenile, was found to be in possession of cannabis,” he says.

The police have thrown their weight behind the efforts to fence in the park, Knapp says.

“Muizenberg police support the idea of fencing the park as we believe it would assist with the reduction of criminal activities in the park,” he says.

Friends of Muizenberg Park chairperson Nicci Giles says the organisation recognises that there are pros and cons to fencing the space.

“The park is currently an underutilised, but important green node in the broader community and we are excited that the City has shown its willingness to invest in the park through building relationships with various interest groups, supporting the community’s creation of a Freedom Garden, providing children’s holiday groups and the Concert in the Park. The City Parks department works hard to try to keep the park clean and this is supported by Friends work groups,” she says.

The organisation envisions the park being used by all of the community as a “space for children to play in and people to enjoy relaxing under the trees or exploring the paths up to the mountain”, says Giles.


“The park is currently an underutilised, but important green node in the broader community and we are excited that the City has shown its willingness to invest in the park through building relationships with various interest groups, supporting the community’s creation of a Freedom Garden, providing children’s holiday groups and the Concert in the Park. The City Parks department works hard to try to keep the park clean and this is supported by Friends work groups,” she says.

The organisation envisions the park being used by all of the community as a “space for children to play in and people to enjoy relaxing under the trees or exploring the paths up to the mountain”, says Giles.

“The park currently faces some challenges including the negative aspects of people defecating in the bushes or on the paths, throwing waste into the upper reaches and leaving evidence of ... drug paraphernalia lying around, as well as criminal activity such as breaking into cars along the borders of the park. At the moment there are a number of people who seem to be living in the precinct illegally and who have been reported to threaten the bowlers and other residents living close to the park,” Giles says.

But the organisation has raised the question of if a fence would support the vision of a “shared, well utilised, beautiful and safe place for all”.
“There are a number of things that need to be considered in the need for, design and layout of a fence. Any fence would ideally need to be aesthetically pleasing, durable and easily maintained, have a number of entrances to allow ease of thoroughfare between the beachfront and the mountain above, incorporate both the conservation area and the recreation area of the park, and have someone to lock and open gates at sunset and sunrise.”

A fence in isolation will not be a solution, Giles believes, and will not eliminate the need for law enforcement, although it could make enforcement easier. “Solutions could include improved lighting, management of vegetation to increase visibility, foot patrols, better paths through the conservation area and improved facilities in the park to encourage more positive use of the area.”
Giles trusts the City will undertake consultation with stakeholders to “promote more positive use of the space”.

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