Recreational parks should be filled with fun, laughter and joy.
That cannot be said for Salamander Park in Hangberg, which has seen its fair share of vandalism and theft.
It is characterised by missing netball posts, a half built slide, an unfinished putt putt course, gang taggings, broken bottles and dog poo.
Four gates to the park have all been forced open, presumably by vandals. But the park still means something to the community.
Resident Helen Erasmus says it’s a tragedy the park is in such a poor state when it could be of great benefit to the community.
“We have such a beautiful space here for our kids, a space that could be best used to uplift the mood and create some positivity among our youth.”
Instead, Ms Erasmus said, most children chose to do other things rather than playing in the park, which was now mostly occupied by the “wrong influencers”.
“People gather in the park to drink or smoke drugs, things that are completely opposite to what the park should be used for. Some of the kids are attracted to such behaviour and some choose to stay away,” the mother of three said.
Another concerned local is Frederick Magala, who said he had seen the park going from bad to worse as there were no activities held there that would prompt the community to take better care of it.
“There is so much space to do so much. The City of Cape Town can do weekly programmes there, because if there is constant activity inside the park and people start working together to take better care of it, we won’t be sitting with such problems.”
Improvements to the park in the past had been ruined within days, he said.
“This is our own people doing these things, and then tomorrow we have these very people burning tyres and complaining that we do not get things and the City ignores us. It’s not right and we must stand up to this.”
Several residents voiced their concerns about the park to Sentinel News, but only Ms Erasmus and Mr Magala were prepared to speak on the record.
“The people fear they might be targeted,” Ms Erasmus said. “This is a very close community, and everybody knows, everybody’s business around here. I just want to see our space improved, and if we keep quiet, how will we ever get heard?”
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said: “The ongoing vandalism in Hangberg is an issue that needs the community to address. I fail to believe that we as a community cannot see what is taking place, when it is taking place and who is doing it.”
Mr Quintas said fires were lit in Salamander Park at night and the fence had been damaged.
In 2018, the Oudeskip Park had the chains stolen off the newly installed swing on the night the park was refurbished. And the AstroTurf facility near Salamander Park had seen rampant vandalism (“Sports facility takes a beating”, Sentinel News, November 22, 2019). “We need to stand together to safeguard our assets,” Mr Quintas said.
He said the unfinished putt putt course was set to be completed before the end of June. And he hoped to see upgrades done at Salamander Park by the end of the financial year.
“Our City parks’s department has also recently added shade bearing trees to the Salamander Park.
We have also repainted the park and will be repairing the slide and adding putt putt surfacing before the end of the financial year,” Mr Quintas confirmed.
He urged residents to report acts of vandalism, recording names and dates, as well as any other pertinent information.