Vandalism, theft and dumping have turned a Phoenix park into a shadow of its former self.
Not so long ago, Democracy Park had green grass, a netball court, a merry-go-round and other play equipment.
Now it sports trenches and mounds of rubble. The playing equipment and the fence are gone.
Wandisile Ngeyi, the ward councillor for the area, said he believed the equipment had been stolen and sold.
“The recent land-invasion protests have also had a hand in what has happened there. After the fence and the equipment were stolen, the land was left empty and people decided that they would invade it.
“People dug up trenches, demarcating plots, and that destroyed the look of the place. The land invaders didn’t succeed in moving there, but we later then had vagrants starting to live there,” he said.
Those who live near the park say Joe Slovo residents should take responsibility for what has happened.
Simphiwe Moholo, of Joe Slovo, said he had seen his community deteriorate drastically in the past three years.
“I’m not saying that when I came here, there weren’t any issues, but the place just seems to have gotten worse. There’s more rubbish in the streets and more people vandalising because they think there won’t be any repercussions. There’s also more and more people moving to this very small area, so that affects the sewerage and drainage systems too.”
Namhla Jikela, also from Joe Slovo, said that parents should be leading by example and showing their children to take pride in their community.
“I believe it starts with the adults in this community. They are the ones doing all the vandalism, dumping etc. The children see from their actions, and this is why we often see young children also throwing stones at cars passing by during protests. They learn that from the adults.”
Nophelo Mgidlana is an informal trader near the park. “The City is letting this park become a dumping ground,” she said.
“There’s rats and faeces there because of the dumping and the vagrants. All this is mixed with drains that always burst. It’s a horrible situation. It’s affecting my business.”
Mr Ngeyi said the City cleaned several times a week in Joe Slovo.
“We also find that people in Joe Slovo will miss bin day and then just throw their rubbish anywhere. Now people have basically created dumping sites because of the constant littering. We might not be doing as much work as we need to in our communities because our operations were affected by the lockdown, but the City operates as much as it can. But we also need the assistance of the residents.”
Mr Ngeyi said the City planned to move the vagrants from the park to a shelter.