‘Cabbage bandit’ with pavement vegetable garden claims case against him withdrawn
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The Tshwane Metro Police Department, by late yesterday, had yet to confirm the withdrawal of the case against the “cabbage bandit”.
Djo BaNkuna, who infamously created a vegetable garden outside his home, was expected to appear at the Wonderboom Municipal Court yesterday.
He had ignored an order to pay a R1 500 fine for refusing to remove a vegetable garden from the pavement.
He had taken to Facebook to detail that metro police officers threatened him with arrest for creating the vegetable garden on the pavement in front of his Theresapark property in Pretoria North.
Speaking outside his home on Monday, BaNkuna claimed the case was withdrawn after his lawyers indicated that no law had been broken, and there was no law in the country preventing him from planting grass or vegetables.
“The by-law that they quoted when charging me had got nothing to do with planting vegetables.
“They charged me for disturbing a municipal amenity. There is no municipal amenity here, no swimming pool, library or anything I am obstructing,” he said.
“Section 195 of our Constitution defines and prescribes the values and principles that public servants may apply in doing their job. In my case, the public servants chose to suspend that area of the law.
“They harassed, victimised and abused my family.
“What if I did not have access to good legal representation? What if I buckled under such tremendous intimidation and paid the unlawful fine? I would have a criminal record for a lawful act.
“Many powerless and innocent citizens suffer like I did without any legal recourse.
“Abuse of government administrative power is the ultimate violation of the rights and freedom of citizens,” he said.
Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said at the time that the “urban farmer” was issued with a fine of R1 500 for obstructing a sidewalk and space reserved for pedestrians.
“This is national legislation which regulates what is allowed on a public road reserve. It is further supported by the by-law on City amenities.
“Mr BaNkuna does not own this land and cannot merely decide to use it for agricultural purposes. It is public land which needs to be accessed by all residents in the area. Their rights must be protected,” Mahamba said.
When the Pretoria News visited BaNkuna, the controversial vegetable garden was no longer in the immaculate condition it was a few weeks ago or when it had become a hot topic.
What was once dominated by fresh vegetables is now mostly sand.
The few vegetables that remain appear to be getting little to no water and look like they haven’t been tended to for a while.
The 47-year-old previously said that he started the garden three years ago to assist his social worker wife so she could provide for impoverished people.