A controversial play park erected next to the African Methodist church in Zwelethemba was recently removed by the Breede Valley Municipality following complaints about its location problems, noise and various other negative aspects.
The municipality erected the play park as part of its Zwelethemba Corridor Project, and given its location the church experienced numerous problems.
“Back in 2015 we applied for encroachment of the specific area where the play park is now situated,” says Rev Thami Simandla. “We wanted to use the space for parking as we experience a high volume of cars when we have services. We were never responded to until we saw the municipality erecting the play park.”
The municipality started the construction process without informing the church, and it had to deal with a huge amount of noise and dust,” its minister said.
“I live on the same premises that the church is situated on, and it was terrible for my family and I to live through the construction process. However, our problem did not end there after the construction was completed, for it marked the start of another growing problem.”
The church experienced damage to its property due to children leaning on the fence separating the two properties. The church paid R24 000 for the fence to be erected. Multiple windows were also damaged due to stone throwing.
“I picked up beer bottles, condoms and other dirt on the church property,” Simandla continued. “This, to me, means it is not just innocent children who make use of park. I was also forced to lock the gate because use would also be made of the church’s water without our permission.
“My fear is that something bad will happen to the children because they are exposed to a lot of danger. Some nights they are in the park until almost 10 o’clock and they have to walk across the main street to get home.”
The church holds that while the idea behind the play park was good the location was less than ideal. It feels the noise and other inconveniences now exposed could have been avoided if the municipality had consulted first.
The municipality removed the play park after a council meeting on Monday 9 December, when councillors raised the issue. “We are grateful for we will now experience some peace,” Simandla said, “but we are still gutted by this negative experience, a waste of funds that could have been avoided.”
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