This emerged after anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee opened a can of worms when he asked the City of Tshwane if it really expected children to play at the poorly maintained Street Park in Laudium.
He posed the question on social media and tagged the City and Gauteng Premier David Makhura. His post of images of overgrown vegetation encouraged other parents to express their fears about poorly maintained parks.
Parents and young people in the city took to social media and also told the Pretoria News how they feared for the safety of children because there were drug dealers roaming and homeless people who made these recreational areas their homes.
In Sunnyside and Arcadia they spoke of overgrown grass and illegal dumping, which they said made the parks look abandoned and that homeless people slept in them and made fires at night.
Young people in Jacaranda Park in Sunnyside said the park was neglected to the extent that other kinds of vegetation started growing between the grass. The park’s lights were also out.
Mike Tau said: “This place becomes really dark at night. Criminals rob people walking around here. Last year a guy robbed nurses who were leaving work from the hospital (Netcare Jakaranda Hospital) next to this park.
“A lot of homeless people are sleeping here. Parents don’t bring their children here anymore. You could step on a pile of faeces because the homeless guys relieve themselves everywhere.”
Daniel Okafor was found watching over his daughter as she played in the small park near the Sunnyside swimming pool in Jorissen Street.
“This place is not safe but because we live in flats and our children have to play, we don’t have a choice. I have to watch her play. You can see there are homeless guys sleeping nearby and another group using drugs, acting as if they don’t see us. We would like all the parks to be maintained and kept to the standard of parks like Jubilee Park and Springbok Park. Those ones are nice but they are far for some of us,” said Okafor.
Parents at Arcadia Park, located near the Pretoria Art Gallery, said they loved the stylish look of the park but did not like homeless people sleeping there. They also did not like people littering in the park because it created a culture that it is okay to litter.
Spokesperson for the City Lindela Mashigo said: “We encourage residents to take their gripes to their ward councillors so they are reported and dealt with accordingly. In terms of the illegal elements and the homeless in the parks, residents are urged to report this to police.”