By Sibusiso Mdlalose
KWAZULU-NATAL, South Africa – A R1.50 milllion worth Vuyisile Thwala Park in Osizweni, Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the few parks which were built by Newcastle local municipality out of the ratepayers’ money eight years ago to serve as a recreation centre and outdoor gymnasium for adults and children.
But after the municipality’s decision to withdraw security services at the park, there has been much vandalism that has been taking place at the park. The toilet’s washbasins, windows and fence have been vandalised, as well as some of the few gymnasium’s objects have not been spared of the gradual vandalism.
It has been eight months (since May 2019) since the security personnel have been withdrawn from the park, and according to the local residents the municipality should not have withdrawn security because the township’s section (Section B) where the park is situated, is riddled with crime and drug abuse.
“They (municipality) made a big mistake by withdrawing security at the park, because this area has a high rate of crime and drug abuse. Believe me, just before April the vandalism at this park will have deteriorated and the gymnasium material will have been more vandalised and some of it been sold to scrapyard by the local whoonga (drugs) addicts.
“We have heard that the municipality no longer has a budget for security, which is why they ended the contract with the security company that has been guarding this park. But the same municipality’s mayor and his fellow high profile officials have bodyguards, yet they claim to have no budget for the community parks’ security,” said one of the residents who prepared to speak on condition of anonymity.
Mbuso Msibi, operations manager of Sukuma Security, the company that has been contracted to Newcastle municipality to guard the park, confirmed to OgeneAfrican that the company’s contract with the municipality has ended, and has not been renewed.
“Yes, I can confirm that our contract with the Newcastle municipality expired and was not renewed. In fact, it is not only Vuyisile Thwala park in Osizweni township that has been under our guard, but also other parks in Newcastle (town) and Madadeni township,” Msibi said.
OgeneAfrican sent email questions last week to Dr Dumisani Thabethe, Newcastle municipality spokesman, but never responded to the email until a follow-up telephone call on Monday afternoon (yesterday) which he eventually responded to.
“The reason for ending a contract with Sukuma Security company is due to the municipality’s financial constraints. The municipality no longer has budget for security services at the local parks. Though as the municipality we are also concerned about the vandalism at the park, but we believe that community members also have a responsibility to look after their own facility,” Thabethe said.
Sibusiso Mdlalose, a Newcastle-based OgeneAfrican freelance journalist. Contact number 063 949 1865