‘The park is a mess’

2019-03-11 09:12
Municipal workers clean Alexandra Park on Friday.

Municipal workers clean Alexandra Park on Friday. (Nokuthula Ntuli)

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Ratepayers and residents neighbouring Alexandra Park are fed up with revellers — who’ve been described as bullies by the City — who subject them to loud music then leave the area covered with litter after every weekend of partying.

Liquor bottles, takeaway food containers and other forms of litter have become a common sight there after public holidays and weekends when loud music keeps those living closeby up until the early hours of the morning.

“People are openly drinking alcohol in [public] and leaving their bottles of alcohol strewn all over the lawn … and playing music from their vehicles at an excessive noise level,” said one of the ratepayers.

Another resident said the problem was Msunduzi’s failure to enforce its bylaws. He said the City should consider sending an official to measure the noise levels around the park every weekend.

“The municipality has these great bylaws but they are completely useless if there is no will to enforce them,” he said.

The park is one of the Pietermaritzburg’s main outdoor public facilities and received a R12 million upgrade from the Department of Environmental Affairs less than three years ago.

On Friday Weekend Witness counted more than 15 bins inside and around the park but most of the litter did not make it into them as it was left on the ground where the revellers were believed to have gathered.

Municipal workers clean Alexandra Park yesterday.

Municipal workers clean Alexandra Park on Friday.

Nhlanhla Nkosi, who briefly rented an apartment  about 500 metres from Alexandra Park last year, said there used to be a concert at the park every Sunday night.

“People used to start gathering at the park around 6 pm. I could hear loud music, people screaming and singing.

“I could even hear what the DJ was saying. The concerts would go on until the early hours of Monday morning and I could not sleep because it literally felt like I was at those concerts.”

He said it had become “so irritating” that after a month at his apartment he started looking for a new place to stay.

A resident of a retirement complex in the vicinity of the park said that some Saturdays, the noise started at 10.30 am and continued until after midnight. “You get this thump, thump, thump.”

Even on Sundays it goes on until midnight which she said makes her wonder if the noise makers did not have work or classes to attend on Mondays.

The aftermath of the raucous parties sees parts of the park “ankle deep in litter”.

“There are green bottles everywhere. Obviously it is a drinking session. It’s absolutely disgusting. Outside the swimming pool is also a mess,” she added.

The woman said she did not mind noise occasionally, for instance when there was a concert, but not as frequently as it happens.

Over the years, she said she had complained numerous times to the municipality and police. However, nothing happened.

So, what’s the City doing about it?

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said there were numerous sporting activities that people enjoyed around the park, including cricket and soccer.

“However, the park has now been overtaken by party revellers who bully families and children, partying through the weekends,” she said.

Mafumbatha said the challenges facing Alexandra Park also included revellers who failed to use the ablutions facilities, which resulted in urination on plants and used tissues being found all over the park.

“This poses a hygiene risk and the stench of urine makes the park an unpleasant place.”

She said the City was enforcing the bylaws — including the noise control regulation — and allegations of non-compliance were investigated once complaints were received.

People found guilty of contravening the noise control regulation faced a fine not exceeding R20 000, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.

Mafumbatha said people were urged to keep the area clean and noise at acceptable levels.

“The idea is to identify an area away from Alexandra Park for revellers to gather [and] to provide a designated area that will be exclusive to revellers and make it attractive for partying purposes exclusively.”

She said they want to create a safe, vibrant and enabling environment for revellers to socialise in “which will give us an opportunity to restore Alexandra Park to its original beauty and intended use,” said Mafumbatha of future plans. 

Chairperson for the community services portfolio committee, Siphamandla Khumalo, said the City was not against people having fun at the precinct but their enjoyment must not cause a nuisance to others.

“We are appealing to those who use the park and other similar public facilities to respect them and treat them with care. These facilities are there for everyone to enjoy so please leave them in a [state] you would like to find them — use the bins and ablutions provided,” he said.

To report violations of the environmental health bylaws people can contact the relevant department on 033 392 2344 or the City’s call centre on 080 0001 868.

And the police?

Alexandra police station spokesperson, Captain Kholeka Mhlongo said sometimes fights broke out when people became intoxicated but they had never had reports of serious crimes being committed around the park.

“The complaints that we normally get are about loud music and people littering but those have to do with municipal bylaws.

She said that public areas such as parks did not have restrictions on alcohol consumption such as the beaches. She said the police were involved in the planning for major events around the precinct

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  alexandra park
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