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The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape has challenged Sol Plaatje municipality to restore the once picturesque Oppenheimer Gardens in Kimberley to their former glory, both for the sake of students and to improve the overall image of the degraded city.
The historical gardens were previously the pride of Kimberley, used for flea-markets, Christmas Carols and even just by residents looking for some sun and fresh air. They have since also come to form a central park for students of Sol Plaatje University and the Northern Cape Urban TVET College.
Sadly, however, the gardens are a far cry from the green and clean grounds that they once were. Instead, they have been transformed into a filthy and dangerous hazard for students.
Exposed electrical wires can be seen all over the gardens (see pic here). Open drains have been covered with ramshackle silex slabs (see pic here). The historical Diggers Memorial is strewn in take-away containers, plastic bags, bottles and even used condoms, as are the entire grounds (see pics here and here). This, while Sol Plaatje municipality observes from a safe distance from across the road.
The gardens are literally a stone’s throw away from Sol Plaatje municipality, which simply couldn’t be bothered. In fact, municipal workers were last week caught on camera sitting on the outskirts of the park, from 10:00 until 12:00, instead of cleaning it, caring for the gardens and securing exposed cables (see pic here).
The gardens are a sore reminder of the ongoing neglect of Kimberley and of the lack of political will by the ANC-run municipality to give the dilapidated city a makeover.
The DA has issued a challenge to Mayor Patrick Mabilo to get the park back into tip-top shape but we are not very hopeful that he will do much to reverse the rot. I will also table a motion relating to the state of the park, and the greater Kimberley area, in parliament as part of my ongoing efforts to get the President and Deputy President to return to Kimberley, to see for themselves that the city has yet to regain its sparkle. This, however, will probably also not materialise.
Hope, however, is not entirely lost. The DA can transform Sol Plaatje municipality, but only if people grab hold of the lifeline we are throwing them at the polls. Surely it is time for change in this broken city!
Issued by DA