Razor wire around park 'resurrects apartheid'

FENCED OFF: The razor wire around this park in Kokstad has caused a lot of commotion. © Sowetan.
FENCED OFF: The razor wire around this park in Kokstad has caused a lot of commotion. © Sowetan.

Kamva Mokoena

Kamva Mokoena

The use of razor wire to fence off a community park in Kokstad in southern KwaZulu-Natal has met with fierce opposition from some residents.

Apart from the wire not being "pleasing to the eye", residents say razor wire is a symbol of apartheid.

"The apartheid government used razor wire to fence off camps during their regime. Sometimes they used to tie us up with razor wire and beat us," said one resident, who did not want to be named.

Another resident said: "This is a place to relax with our kids and we expect to see beautiful flowers and hedges surrounding the park, not razor wire."

Spokesman for environmental affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Mbulelo Baloyi, believes that the use of razor wire is not environmentally friendly.

He said razor wire is used to fence off prisons.

"But I wouldn't know the reason why they decided to fence off this Kokstad one - maybe people are a nuisance."

Acting municipal manager for Greater Kokstad Municipality Gamakhulu Sineke said the wire was used for "security reasons, because the park had in the past been used as a sex zone and drug smuggling spot".

"At first we thought of an ordinary wire. But people steal the wire for their own use."

He said the municipality has set aside R500000 to rehabilitate all Kokstad parks.

Chairman for the Griqua Development Committee Gabriel Marais appreciated the municipality's decision.

"Our park has turned into a drinking place. Serious crimes like rapes and robberies were committed there and beautiful tables and chairs that were put in the park were destroyed or stolen."

Marais also pleaded with the municipality to fence off Adam Kok's monument inside the park.

Local poet Shaik Abdur-rahim Phiri agrees with Marais and believes fencing the park will preserve the town's historical sites.

Human rights commission chairman Jody Kollapen said local authorities have a right to fence off the park if it is not safe for users, but added that it that could affect some people negatively.