root - May 9, 2023

  • “It’s an ongoing problem,” say residents.
  • Tired of waiting for the City, residents’ team up to clean the children’s park.
  • The park doubles as a sports field for the neighbouring primary school.

Anita Khaile

Frustrated by a lack of response from authorities to illegal dumping in a children’s play park, a group of Dunoon residents have taken it upon themselves to clean the park and provide a safe, clean place for children to play. 

The park opposite Sophakama Primary school has become a dump site for household waste, a breeding ground for rats, and a health threat to residents. 

Tired of waiting for the City to clean the park, on Friday 19 May a group of residents, including soccer players and last year’s Miss Bikini Cape Town Public Choice winner Ntombovuyo Ngomana, teamed up with Sophakama Primary school principal Amos Siwayi to remove the waste piling up in the playground. 

The residents brought their own shovels, wheelbarrows, and rakes. 

Siwayi says the illegal dumping at the park has been getting worse. 

“There is a stench coming from the park. Our learners play at the park before and after school,” said Siwayi.

He said the school makes use of the park for physical education but it had become a health hazard. 

Besides Sophakama Primary school, there are also three creches and two churches close to the park. “The smell from this park is very bad for infants. We as a school used to come out and clean this park at least twice a week in preparation for our (physical education) sessions but now we can’t anymore,” said Siwayi.

The park was enclosed with an iron fence but a section along Mnandi avenue was damaged after a motorist crashed into, it leaving it vulnerable to illegal dumping, said Dunoon resident Joey McBean, who lives near the park.  

McBean said residents from different sections of Dunoon dumped their rubbish in the park at night, and then the “nyaope boys” (drug addicts) pick through it for electrical wiring. He said they burn the plastic insulation off the wiring in the park before selling the copper at the scrapyard. 

He said the fumes from the burning plastic affected everyone in the area. 

“We can’t even open our windows in the house anymore due to the devastating situation at this park.” 

Community activist Thembelani Ndabezimbi said he was compelled to initiate the park cleanup campaign after noticing that illegal dumping was getting out of hand. 

Ndabezimbi said municipal refuse trucks collected refuse in Dunoon, but when residents forgot to put their bins out, they then dumped their rubbish in the park, and sometimes the refuse truck didn’t arrive.

He said street cleaners contracted by the municipality cleaned other areas and the informal settlement, but ignored the play park. 

“Our leaders are allowing the situation to happen, they can see what is happening but they are not doing anything about it. Children are still playing at this park, while on the other side people are dumping dirt. It is unhygienic.” 

Mayco member for community service and health, Patricia van der Ross, said the City’s Recreation and Parks Department is aware of the constant dumping and vandalism in and around the park.

“The Department cleans the park once a week, with the assistance of the city’s solid waste and roads department. However, because of the constant dumping after hours, the park remains in a dire condition,” she said.

Van der Ross said her department is procuring fencing material to secure the park. This would be done in June. 

She said the park will be used as a food garden, coordinated by the local councilor, local nonprofit organisations, and residents.  

She called on residents to put forward any ideas on how to effect a change in behaviour from within the community, or volunteer to form groups such as neighbourhood watches. 

Residents can report incidents of vandalism and theft by calling 107 from a landline, or 021 480 7700. Alternatively, residents can email the Recreation and Parks Department at   

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