Call for fencing at Oakdale park

A makeshift bedroom in the park

Oakdale residents want the City to build a fence around Vlei Park, which they say has become a hotbed for dumping, drug use and other illegal activities. 

The park is behind Waldo Swegelaar’s house, but he says it’s in such a poor state he rather goes to De Jongh Park to walk his dogs.

“Every so often, I will walk in the area just to see what is happening, and the last time I was there, I saw about seven used condoms lying on the field, and last week, we also had to chase a guy away that was having sex with a prostitute on the filed. Lots of times when I come home from work and I see people on the field then I just drive my car there and flash my lights to chase them away. When I check afterwards, then there is evidence of whatever drugs they are using laying all over the field.”

The park was also being used for illegal dumping, he said. 

“A lot of the guys bring appliances they get from other areas here, and they pull it apart, looking for copper, and then they just leave the rest here on the ground. I caught one guy destroying a microwave, and when I questioned him about it, he told me that he carried it all the way from Welgemoed. So that tells me that the guys target the park as their dumping site and that needs to stop.” 

Ward councillor Leonore van der Walt said money to fence the park would have to come out of her constituency budget, and it stretched only so far to meet all the area’s needs.

“Lighting has been installed in this open space to provide visibility at night for neighbourhood patrollers,” she said, but noted that because the park was a public open space it had to be accessible to all so a fence was unlikely to keep out unwanted visitors.

But Mr Swegelaar isn’t buying that. He said other public parks, such as De Jongh, were fenced, and it wouldn’t be a problem to lock and unlock the gate if Vlei Park were too. “We as residents are more than willing to lock and close the gate – something we have made clear along with our many requests.”

Other parks, he argued, had footpaths, dog-walking facilities and play parks, and residents couldn’t understand why Vlei Park had none.

“There are so many plans that the residents have for the park, but, of course, none of them can be realised with the current situation. Instead of making the park great, residents either ignore it or spend time protecting it. One resident had to put barbed wire all over the area directly behind his property just to stop the guys from defecating there.”

Ms Van der Walt said municipal grounds staff were trying to keep the park clean, but it was a tough job.

“The City’s cleaning team cleans the area, but then the next day there are items dumped again. It is very difficult to clean the many open spaces over a huge area more than once a week. The park has areas that are rather out of sight and seem to be a choice location to dump or conduct other activities as a result. The City of Cape Town has shelters and works in collaboration with various NGOs to provide safe havens, food and activities for the homeless, but, unfortunately, we cannot force the homeless to stay in these facilities.”