Djo BaNkuna of Theresa Park has been issued with a R1 500 for planting vegetables on the pavement outside his home. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Djo BaNkuna of Theresa Park has been issued with a R1 500 for planting vegetables on the pavement outside his home. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Tshwane ’cabbage bandit’ vows not to pay fine for planting vegetables on pavement

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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NOKWANDA NCWANE

Pretoria - The resident known as the “cabbage bandit” yesterday vowed not to pay the fine issued to him by Tshwane Metro Police Department for planting vegetables on the pavement.

Djo BaNkuna, of Theresa Park, has been threatened with arrest by metro police for his pavement vegetable garden.

He told Pretoria News that the section of law that the police were using to charge him did not prevent him from planting vegetables.

Metro police served him with a notice to pay a fine of R1 500 for interfering with municipal infrastructure at midday yesterday.

A social media uproar erupted after BaNkuna took to Facebook to detail how the Tshwane police officers had threatened him with arrest for growing a vegetable garden on his pavement. He said he created the garden to assist his wife to provide for impoverished people.

This was apparently not allowed, he was told. He was informed that only flowers or grass were allowed on the pavement outside his home.

He said when he sought permission to continue with his vegetable garden from City officials, he became the butt of jokes as they laughed at him and told him no such permission was required or granted.

Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said they knew nothing about BaNkuna’s alleged threats of arrest, and it was just a story that he fabricated on social media.

Mahamba added that there was no reason for him to be arrested because the offence he committed did not warrant an arrest.

“Unless we issue him with a traffic fine and he refuses to identify himself, he might be detained for certain hours, but he won’t be arrested for failing to remove those vegetables,” said Mahamba.

Mahamba added that BaNkuna would be fined for obstructing a road traffic sign.

“In this case he obstructed the sidewalk by planting vegetables on the street reserved.”

BaNkuna remained defiant and vowed to keep his vegetable garden where it was and on land that he owned for the benefit of those who needed free food.

His matter has in the past week garnered massive support from people who accused the Tshwane police of sucking laws out of their thumbs.

Among his backers is Black First Land First (BLF), which said the Tshwane metro police, at the behest of the municipality, were involved in unethical behaviour by harassing BaNkuna.

“It is the policy of BLF to turn all spaces into food production places. Urban agriculture and food production have proven to be successful mechanisms to boost food security as it has happened in Cuba. Tshwane metro is concerned only with growing flowers and grass. People don’t eat flowers and grass, they eat vegetables.

“Hands off this agricultural warrior. Instead of harassing BaNkuna, the Tshwane metro should be supporting him to continue to inspire others to do the same.”

The political party also wrote to Tshwane mayor Randall Williams condemning the City’s conduct and also demanded that BaNkuna be left alone.

It was further reported that he had to remove the vegetables by yesterday or face arrest.

By late yesterday, Mahamba said they had served him with a fine notice. However. BanKuna insisted he needed proper laws to compel him to comply.

Pretoria News

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