City spends millions to fence parks and boost security
PARKS which have become turf for drug dealing by gangs, and those which are repeatedy vandalised, are being secured with fences by the City of Cape Town.
Annually, more than R135 million has been spent by the city on repairs, said Belinda Walker, mayco member for community services and special projects.
Play equipment had been vandalised, existing fencing stolen, and park benches set alight.
“In some instances, the parks are not accessible after dark due to gangs making use of parks to operate their tik (selling of drugs) businesses,” Walker added.
In an effort to curb repeated vandalism and beef up security at parks, the city initiated the fencing project two years ago. But the materials to have the grounds secured are not cheap; palisade fencing costs around R1 100 per metre compared with diamond mesh fencing, which the city used previously and which costs about R600 a metre.
“The city has only recently started fencing off parks as fencing is a very costly exercise, and it will be impossible to fence off the more than 3 300 parks across the city,” Walker said.
Since the launch of the project, a further R25m has been made available to the city to develop and upgrade parks through the Department of Human Settlement’s Urban Settlement Development Grant.
About 120 parks have already been fenced off, but the public still enjoys access during the day. These include Elizabeth Park, Bellville; Majik Forest, Welgemoed; Bhunga Park, Langa; Laurentia Park, Macassar and Wallflower Park, Mitchells Plain.
While Walker believes the public should ultimately have access to the parks at all times, in some areas plagued by gangsterism, crime and drugs, she said the city had appointed local residents to open the park’s gates in the mornings, and lock them again at sunset.
Areas in which parks have also been earmarked for fencing include Delft and Khayelitsha.
Walker said the fences had helped the city manage the park vicinity, and in certain areas this had resulted in a marked reduction in vandalism.