The Sol Plaatje Municipality, which originally approved plans for the electric fence, appears to have backtracked after residents lodged complaints about the park being fenced off.
Residents of an affluent Kimberley suburb were outraged on Tuesday when the construction of an electric fence at a local park, paid for by members of the community who were concerned about their safety, was stopped by officials from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

This despite written authorisation granting permission for such a development.

Royldene homeowner Mike Louw said on Tuesday that despite the best efforts of neighbourhood residents to ensure that the park is a safe place to visit and is always kept in pristine condition, their efforts were proving to be an expensive exercise in futility as they have received little support from local government.

He said that, to date, residents had forked out hundreds of thousands of rands on infrastructure and safety features. These include the erection of an electric fence, with an estimated price tag of R250 000.

This development, however, ground to a halt on Tuesday when municipal officials stopped construction.

“About seven or eight years ago we took over the management of the park and have been covering the costs of upkeep and maintenance out of our own pockets, ever since” Louw said on Tuesday.

“Basically, the municipality has been supplying water but we have been financing the expenses of keeping the area neat, tidy and inviting.

“Sadly, we have had constant problems with people having parties out of the boots of their cars at the park, where alcohol and drugs are used without any concern for the community.”

A fence that was being constructed between Leeuwenhof Avenue and Libertas Crescent, Royldene, was taken down by Sol Plaatje Municipality officials after residents lodged complaints about the park being fenced off.

Louw said that another cause for concern was motorists who are misusing the road separating the communal property from suburban residences.

“We want to make it clear that we aren’t trying to prevent the public from accessing the premises but rather from misusing the park,” Louw added. “People will be able to gain 24-hour access to the park through a pedestrian gate but we want to be able to prevent cars from gaining access at night as this is causing major problems.

“Residents have tried to speak to revellers, only to be sworn at and threatened with violence and now, with the festive season approaching, things are only going to get worse.

“We have already seen people move away, having sold their properties for less than their market value, only to have the buyer demanding their money back after learning of the regular parties.”

Permission to erect the fence was granted, in writing, last year when the Sol Plaatje municipal manager, Goolam Akharwaray, commended the Royldene residents for the initiative.

“Libertas Park Management is a good example of a community’s commitment to transform an open space into a natural and social asset,” Akharwaray stated in a letter to the community-based group, dated March 9, 2016 .

“The undertaking of the Libertas Park Management to erect said fence will contribute towards a socially sound and physically healthy open space and the effort is recognised by the municipality.

“Therefore, permission is hereby granted to erect a fence between Leeuwenhof Avenue and Libertas Crescent.”

The spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, said on Tuesday that while permission to erect fencing in the suburb had been granted to the community, this written authorisation pertained specifically to the park itself and not the road that continues to be a bane of contention in Royldene.

“Libertas Park Management successfully applied for permission to fence the area but this only relates to the park,” Matsie explained. “A formal request has been made to fence the road too, but this application is still pending as the process needs to follow the correct channels.

“A meeting with the various stakeholders will be convened in the near future.”

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