Whoonga addicts, who frequent Sialkot Park, are terrorising the ward 75 community in Merebank, and residents are blaming the eThekwini Municipality for failing to maintain the park. Picture: Tumi Pakkie/African News Agency/ANA
Durban - A Merebank community is asking to be given ownership of a local park following its takeover by drug addicts.

Whoonga addicts, who frequent Sialkot Park, are terrorising the ward 75 community in Merebank, and residents are blaming the eThekwini Municipality for failing to maintain the park.

The area has overgrown grass and shrubs, and has become notorious for being a hideout for whoonga addicts and house breakers.

A couple, who lived in a house next to the park, recently escaped with injuries after a man broke into their home and held them at gunpoint. The couple have since moved to another house, away from the park.

“We have been complaining about this park for so long but the city ignores us. People are mugged when walking through this park. Houses are broken into and families are at risk,” Michelle Naicker said.

She was attacked and held at gunpoint. “It was around 10pm when the man broke in. He tied my husband's hands and started ransacking the house. He had gathered the television set, jewellery and other valuables. He then phoned someone, and he tried this several times. Eventually my husband managed to free himself and a scuffle ensued.”

During the scuffle her husband, Terence, suffered multiple stab wounds - while the intruder died of his wounds in hospital.

Terence was stabbed in the face, hand, back and just above his heart.

He said his survival was a miracle.

“I don't know how I made it, but I wasn't going to make it easy for the intruder. While fighting with this chap, he stabbed me in the face and I had to go to hospital three times a week for drainage,” he said.

Another victim, Valaythum Chetty said he had had several items stolen from his home.

“Yesterday (Saturday) they returned and stole my steel poles. They are brazen and dangerous. They simply disappear into the park and it becomes worse in winter. We've requested ownership of the park as a community, but the city ignored us. Illegal dumping is not making things better,” Chetty said.

PR councillor Sthembiso Ngema said he was aware of the people's concern about the park.

“These whoonga boys use this building (which used to be toilets) to burn stolen cables and to smoke drugs. We have had meetings with city employees but those have been fruitless. Ignoring the park is a disservice to the people,” Ngema said.

City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city was trying its best to keep parks clean. He said succeeding in this required the community to play its part.

“Some of the drug addicts the community is complaining about hail from the same area, so families have a role to play to help them kick the habit. “The city has experienced heavy rains recently, resulting in certain parks having unprecedented overgrown grass. We're moving with speed to ensure that our parks are clean and manicured,” he said.

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