Observatory Civic Association chairperson Tauriq Jenkins protesting alongside Observatory residents against the fencing and leasing of Malta Park and Hartleyvale Stadium grounds. Picture: Tauriq Jenkins/Supplied.
Cape Town - “Fencing Malta Park is fencing the soul of Observatory,” said Observatory Civic Association chairperson Tauriq Jenkins, who led a protest outside the park against the privatisation of public open spaces.

The protest saw a handful of residents picket outside the field against the fencing of Malta Park, claiming the City didn’t follow due processes of having public participation for the fencing and leasing of the park and Hartleyvale Stadium grounds for R8500 a month to the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The lease agreement, signed earlier this year, is valid for two years and 11 months and will see the revamp of the grounds into a R250 million, 10 000-seater stadium.

Jenkins said despite the City’s claims that neighbouring residents and civic organisations received notice about the agreement, 106 neighbouring residents and the civic association signed affidavits stating the contrary.

“Councillor Diamond insisted that they followed all protocol and alerted ratepayers associations following due process. We have 106 signed affidavits from residents around Hartleyvale and Malta park to say they were not notified about it plus 186 signed a petition in objection to the two.

“We have almost 300 pages in response [to the lease and fencing of the parks] which was handed to the City and we haven't had a response. Until the City responds appropriately, we will continue with objections. We want an apology because what people have been telling us has not been true,” said Jenkins.

He added that what's happening in Observatory with regards to the leasing of the land is symbolic of what's happening around the city where residents voices are stifled.

Jenkins said Malta Park has always been a place of meaning to its residents and its been slightly traumatising for the community, to witness the bulldozers and uprooting of the topsoil for the erection of an astroturf.

Mayco member for Assets and Facilities Management, Stuart Diamond said he was aware of the petition issued by the residents but held that due process was followed by the City who sent out notices to the immediate adjacent owners along the fields. 

“An open, inclusive and transparent process was followed which allowed for public comment and objection. The City advertised the lease by placing adverts in the newspapers. Comments and objections were duly considered. 

“There are other facilities in and around the area that the community can use,” said Diamond.

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