Outcry over park dog ban
Durban - Park gates are locked to dog walkers, yet burglars caught in the act on video get no attention.
One Durban dog-lover is exasperated at security priorities in the city, even though the two cases fall under different authorities.
Clothing manufacturer and trader Vaughan Bennewith and his partner Dominique Owen used to walk Jake the labrador at Jameson Park in Morningside every day.
But security personnel have stood guard at the park to prevent dog walkers from entering.
He said he was frustrated at the locked gate and strict ban while other issues in the city were more pressing and getting no action.
“The contrast of the policing just doesn’t make sense,” he told the Independent on Saturday.
He said he had reported repeated burglaries at his business, including video evidence and a suspect caught at the scene, but now bureaucracy had robbed him of an important part of his daily life.
eThekwini Municipality surprised dog walkers last month by imposing a canine ban, because “some dog owners (were) failing to clean up after their pets”.
“Other members of the public were then forced to contend with the smell of dog excrement. There were also instances reported of members of the public being harassed by dogs while trying to enjoy the park. Some owners let their dogs run without leashes and this was a serious concern,” the municipality said.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “This decision was taken with the welfare of all members of the public in mind.”
Residents and local DA councillor Ernest Smith have been in drawn-out negotiations with the council.
“I hope to see a solution in the next month or two where dog owners and the municipality reach an understanding,” said Smith.
“I have submitted a question to full council on the matter questioning the decision taken by the head of the parks, recreation and culture department to close a public space to dog walkers while the municipal by-laws allow leashed dogs in a public space.”
The dog walkers have put it to the municipality that their sudden banning of dogs from Jameson Park, changing an established status quo, was unlawful.
“While we concede that some other parks users with dogs have recently failed to pick up excrement, if this is the reason for your action, then the total ban on dogs is disproportionate and unreasonable,” read the letter.
“The banning is also an incomplete solution to excrement found at the park as several persons defecate in the park too every day.”
The dog walkers, while calling for a suspension of the dog ban, proposed that they could, willingly, at their own cost, employ people to sweep the park and pick up excrement, increase the number of bins, agree to use a limited area of Jameson Park, walk only at specific times and install a dog bag dispenser at park entrances.
The Independent on Saturday