A small group of Mamelodi East residents have taken it upon themselves to turn a nearby illegal dumping site into a safe area to be used by the community. The residents also came up with this idea because they wanted to get rid of the nyaope addicts who have been robbing people for years.
The dumpsite is located near Koos Matli Primary School, and the group has been working tirelessly since the beginning of the lockdown to ensure the park is up and running. Thabo Kutumela, a group member said people have been throwing rubbish there for a long time now. He noted that people often throw away dead animals and syringes there, which posed as a health hazard for the community.
“We come here every day, we work and guard it so people don’t ruin it and steal things. If this project can become a success, it will benefit the entire community at large for years to come,” said Kutumela. Another group member, Isaac Makhura, added that they also planned for the playground to have a gym area, a vegetable garden and other community activities.
Patrick Chuene, who also often helps the group said the vision they had for the park was to get the community together where they can exercise or even have events once the pandemic is over. “Community members were complaining that people were getting hurt there and Nyaope boys spend their time there smoking their drugs behind the bushes,” said Chuene.
The group said they still need swings, grass, fencing and paving for some of the area, which will cost them a lot of money. Some of the group members have volunteered to spend their time guarding the park when they come back from work. The principal of Koos Matli Primary SchooL, Ngoepe Ngwako, said they supported the project, and he said the park was a brilliant idea.
The group works from their own pockets and highlighted that there is still a lack of necessary resources.”Our biggest challenge here is getting things like gardening material and grass. We plan the park to be quite large and just want the children in our community to be safe and have somewhere to play,” said Kutumela.
“The park comes with long term solutions and maybe when done, we as the school could use it for the students as well,” added Ngwako. He claimed that ever since the group started working on the park, there has been less crime and the school is no longer disrupted by the rubbish that got inside their premises.
Ward councillor, Vusi Masemola, who has been invested in the eradication of illegal dumpsites, said the group was on the right track.“The municipality has been running the Adopt a Spot project and in terms of their guidelines, it’s clear these residents are taking good care of this area. We would like to see this type of mindset in all of our community members and we should always support our own,” said Masemola.
Masemola advised the group to also use a large portion of the space for agricultural purposes so that they can be able to generate money for themselves. “Agriculture has huge potential in growing communities and uplifts them as well,” he said.
Kutumela confirmed that they recently received trees, which they have already planted, and managed to erect a tap to water all the plants.