Dispute over park

Mfuleni community leader Thembile George.

Mfuleni residents have vowed to halt any plans to build the R15 million Mfuleni Smart Park, and have cautioned the City of Cape Town that there will be serious consequences if it is pushed ahead.

This emerged last week when the City announced plans to start with construction early next year.

According to the City, the plan was approved earlier this year, but residents say they are against the proposal which includes an amphitheatre, a five-a-side soccer field and braai facilities with automated irrigation systems.

Mfuleni community leader,Thembile George, said they had informed the City on a number of times that they were opposed to the park, adding that he was shocked to discover that the City had decided to go ahead with the plan despite strong opposition from the community.

Mr George said they informed the City that they would prefer the money to be spent on resolving the housing backlog and installing speed humps. He said they have backyarders who had been living in the area for more than 15 years.

Mr George accused the City of not consulting the community regarding the proposed park and that a meeting would be organised in the coming weeks to discuss the matter and take the necessary action.

He said Mfuleni already had a park, and there was therefore no need for another one. The existing park, however, was in poor shape and Mr George accused the City of having neglected it, which led to it being vandalised.

“We don’t have a problem with the building of a park, but there are more pressing issues like housing that needs to be dealt with. This is not a necessity, and we have made it clear that we don’t want it. We will fight tooth and nail to oppose its construction. We feel that the City has undermined the current leadership of this area,” he said.

But mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe said the City had consulted with residents who had provided “valuable” feedback. “Following the valuable input received from the Mfuleni community last year, we look forward to continuing engagement with local residents in the new year, especially around the design and location of the public art for the park,” he said.

He added that the project had emerged from a consultative planning process with the local community and that the project supported the extensive housing development projects in the area. He said there had been extensive public consultation on this project with a Project Steering Committee elected from local community structures who had provided input into the design of the park. He added that three open days had also been held. As far as the City is aware, he said, there was very strong support for the park. “We did not receive any negative comment during the public participation process,” he said.

Vukani’s requests for the details of the members of the project steering committee went unanswered by the City.