MISSING PART OF HISTORY
By: Lindokuhle Simelane
The plaques placed around statues at King Dinuzulu (Louis Botha) Park opposite DUT’s City Campus in Durban have been stolen.
The plaques have historical notes about the relationship between former prime minister of the Union of South Africa, Louis Botha, and Zulu King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo. Their statues are an attraction for some visitors to the city.
King Dinuzulu Park is just one of a number of parks around the city which have been left in a deteriorating state.
The bronze statue of Dinuzulu had 12 brass plaques placed in a circle around it but two are already missing.
A security guard patrolling the area believed that vagrants were stealing the plaques and selling them at scrap yards.
The statue and the plaques were commissioned by then KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusiso Ndebele in 2005 at a cost of R600 000.
The standard of upkeep of the park’s plants and trees has also slipped.
Another neglected municipal park with significant history is Freedom Park in Umbilo.
The park, once known as Resistance Park, was where anti-apartheid activists gathered in 1946, in protest against race laws. The protests were led by Mahatma Gandhi.
In 2006, former president Thabo Mbeki and India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled a plaque at the park.
The park’s central pond no longer has clean water and ducks, as it used to. While some people still visit the park to relax, a handful of vagrants seem to have taken ownership of the place.
Although Albert Park is fairly well maintained, there are ongoing issues around drug abuse and an influx of whoonga addicts at night. The city says it is working on a plan to sort out the area and promises significant progress by June.
Jethro Lefevre, a DA councillor for the Berea and Overport areas said, “As a ward councillor I sit in a quarterly area meeting with various sub-heads of parks and recreation and have to say that it is very clear that the staff are
hamstrung by a series of problems. Firstly they are completely incapacitated by the budget policy where items that are necessary for operation like hammers and ladders are called Capital budget items, which is ridiculous.”
“They are completely understaffed as there are not enough members to maintain the level of service that used to exist. Thirdly there are too many restrictive nonsense policies that force the hands of the managers into difficult situations,” said Leferve
EThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa said, “One of our biggest challenge as the City is that we cannot control the movement of the homeless people however, our officials are tracking their movements and relocate the marquee as and when they have identified a new spot where the homeless people congregate.”
Lefevre also urged councillors to get involved in keeping parks in their areas clean.