Cape Town land invaders rip out play equipment and build homes

Plots are marked out and construction has begun as can be seen in this photograph of a park in Wallacedene, Cape Town, after a land invasion on Wednesday.
Plots are marked out and construction has begun as can be seen in this photograph of a park in Wallacedene, Cape Town, after a land invasion on Wednesday.
Image: City of Cape Town

Cape Town authorities have hit out at the people behind two land invasions at parks.

Community members in Wallacedene looked on as invaders destroyed playgrounds to make space for homes, mayoral committee member for community services Zahid Badroodien said on Thursday.

The city released an aerial photograph of one of the invasions, which happened at 10am on Wednesday in Matobyele Street.

“Officials from the recreation and parks department immediately went out to the site and saw a number of people at work, some already erecting poles in preparation for erecting more than 30 informal housing structures,” said Badroodien, adding that a park in Gumede Street was also invaded.

An aerial view of the Wallacedene park and its play equipment before Wednesday's land invasion.
An aerial view of the Wallacedene park and its play equipment before Wednesday's land invasion.
Image: City of Cape Town

“There seemed to be no objection from community members who were onlookers, except for concerns about city staff taking photographs,” he said.

He said the invaders had removed children’s play equipment from the parks and discarded it in the streets.

“Sadly, many children took to playing on the damaged and discarded equipment, which was completely unstable and dangerously scattered in the middle of a tarred road,” said Badroodien.

He said the destruction of parks was detrimental to the development of children.

“Parks are developed and maintained in highly densified communities primarily to benefit the youth who have no alternatives for affordable, accessible and safe outdoor spaces for recreation.

“The loss of parks directly limits the opportunity to do physical exercise, play and develop large motor skills, enhance social skills and promote overall social cohesion and community wellness.

“Invasion of city property and land prohibits effective service delivery and the development of beautiful spaces.”

He accused land grabbers across the city, “from Observatory to Wallacedene”, of taking advantage of Covid-19 regulations.

“We cannot deliver world-class facilities if residents continue to break the foundations which we need to build on,” said Badroodien. “The department has prioritised the collection and removal of the play equipment for repairs and storage in order to eliminate the safety risk for children.”

He said before the invasions, illegal dumping had been a constant challenge in the parks, which made it difficult for the department to maintain cleanliness and cultivate a grassed surface. “Ultimately, what determines whether a park will deteriorate or flourish is how the community values and utilises the park.

“As a city we acknowledge the need for housing, but we cannot sacrifice the few recreational spaces available.”


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