- Joe Nkuna has been fined for growing cabbages on city land.
- The man claims he was handed a R1 500 fine and court order over the cabbage patch.
- TMPD says the fine was over violations of national regulations and local bylaws.
A Tshwane man has reportedly been fined for growing a vegetable garden on municipal property outside his home.
In a social media post, Joe Nkuna said Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers served him with a notice to appear in court over his use of the municipal property to grow vegetables.
He added that he had been fined R1 500.
Nkuna grows vegetables outside his Theresapark home. He initially planted flowers and grass, but decided to grow vegetables for his wife, a social worker, to give her clients.
"My wife is a professional social worker, and she does voluntary work in the Soshanguve area. She has a habit of taking things to help the people that she comes across in her work.
"She takes vegetables, clothes, books and whatever she can find to assist in the various situation that she comes across," he said.
He planted the vegetable garden to assist her cause and also to save money on groceries, he said.
The garden was so successful that he began growing vegetables next to a park on a 60m2 patch of land near his home. He reportedly had permission from the park manager to start the garden.
Nkuna said he was initially informed by TMPD officers that he was violating bylaws by planting the vegetables – something he could not confirm after spending several hours at the local municipal offices.
TMPD spokesperson Issac Mahamba confirmed that Nkuna had been issued with a R1 500 fine for "obstructing a sidewalk" because "this space is reserved for pedestrians".
"On [Thursday], a complaint was received in relation to the use of a road reserve to which TMPD officers responded. They identified that Nkuna was utilising a public road reserve to grow an array of crops."
According to Timeslive, Nkuna was given until Tuesday to remove the cabbages or be charged. He then posted on Tuesday that he had been issued with the fine and court order.
Mahamba explained that the fine had a due date, and should the fine not be paid by that date, Nkuna could appear in court to dispute it. The fine was due in October, and Nkuna would be able to dispute the fine in November, Mahamba said.
He said the fine was guided by national legislation, which regulates what is allowed on a public road reserve, and is supported by bylaws that prohibit "interfering in any manner with the property of the municipality".
"Nkuna does not own this land and cannot merely decide to use it for agricultural purposes. It is public land that needs to be accessed by all residents in the area; their rights must be protected.
"TMPD have engaged with Nkuna to highlight exactly why his actions are problematic. What is further alarming is that on his public Facebook posts, he has openly bragged about 'grabbing' land. This is deeply alarming because the City of Tshwane is actively trying to combat land invasions which violate the rights of citizens," said Mahamba.
Nkuna had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
In his social media posts, he said: "The might of the law has been unleashed upon me and my cabbage patch… We must change the outlook and attitude towards food security and hunger. The road is long, but enlightenment is at the horizon. We must not give up, no matter what we face."
Member of the mayoral committee for community safety Karen Meyer referred News24 to Mahamba for comment.
The City has a formal "adopt a spot policy", which allows residents who wish to beautify public spaces to apply to the City’s environmental department.
"It is disappointing that Nkuna has not attempted to engage on this policy," Mahamba said.