‘I argued the bylaw was irrelevant’: Joe Nkuna on case withdrawn

Joe Nkuna said he received a letter from a prosecution official notifying him about the withdrawal of the case.
Joe Nkuna said he received a letter from a prosecution official notifying him about the withdrawal of the case.
Image: Supplied

Joe Nkuna, from Theresapark in Akasia, whose vegetable pavement garden landed him in trouble with the authorities, says the case against him has been withdrawn.

Nkuna, the self-proclaimed “cabbage bandit,” shared via Facebook that he received a letter last week Wednesday from the acting director for municipal courts prosecution notifying him about the withdrawal of the case.

This is after he was charged by the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) in September for obstructing the sidewalk. He was issued with a fine of R1,500, with the alternative to appear in court if he wished to contest it.

The withdrawal of the case, Nkuna said, came “after I submitted my representations on 28/09/2021. Therein I argued that there was no case against me. That I did not break any municipal bylaws by planting cabbage and onions rather than grass and roses.”

 “I argued that the municipal amenities bylaw that was cited on my R1,500 fine was desperate and irrelevant as there was no such a public amenity at the corner of my property. My house is not a public amenity...The prosecutors agree. No case,” he said.

Nkuna said the cabbage saga had created unnecessary trauma for him and his family.

“I am a patriot and a law-abiding citizen. The failed attempt... to portray me as a rascal and a hooligan is unfortunate and hurting. What if I did not have access to good legal representation? What if I buckled under... and paid the unlawful fine? I would be having an unlawful criminal record.

Nkuna said he intended to let the matter drop now — except to continue advocating for the use of public spaces to grow food.

“I do not wish to fight to the death. I could sue, raise a massive dust storm and get paid. But that is not me.

“I hope that lessons were learned from this saga by all the parties. I hope that a new approach is adopted by the TMPD and the City of Tshwane where citizens are approached cordially and humanly in the spirit of bathopele. I hope there is a rethink and a new way of how we can harness public urban spaces to fight hunger.” 

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