Residents stage ‘symbolic’ protest

Several local residents took to the streets last week in a protest against “privatisation of open public space in Observatory, and the leasing and fencing of Malta Park”.

The residents gathered on the corner of Liesbeek Avenue and Station Road on Friday 27 July, holding up placards with messages including #ReclaimMaltaPark and #ObsNotForSale.

Protest leader and Observatory Civic Association chairperson, Tauriq Jenkins, said the aim of the peaceful protest was partly to bring the problem to the attention of the rest of the community.

“We feel that putting a steel fence around Malta, symbolically is also putting a steel fence around the soul of Observatory­.

“This is about an intangible memory, about respecting these kinds of spaces that imbue a sense of connectivity of community, of the kinds of attributes that make Observatory a special place,” said Jenkins.

The civic association has been at odds with the City of Cape Town over the leasing of Hartleyvale and Malta Park to Cape Town City Football Club, the recent instance being an official objection (“City under fire over stadium lease”, People’s Post, 12 June).

Mayco member for assets and facilities management, Stuart Diamond, has previously stated that proper public consultation was carried out and comments and objections considered before any lease rights were granted by the City.

However, Jenkins disputes this. He says: “Diamond has insisted that the City has followed diligent due process. Perhaps we have a difference of opinion in terms of what is diligent due process.”

Jenkins said the civic association has 106 affidavits signed by residents who live opposite the stadium who state categorically that they were never part of any public participation related to the matter­.

“If you are going to place an advert in the newspaper, is that informing, or is just putting something in the paper and saying ‘Let’s just put something somewhere, whether people will see it is irrelevant’. What kind of relationship building with the community is that?”

Jenkins said the park should not be fenced and the residents will continue to protest until their get answers.

“We are completely within our rights to choose the correct kinds of strategies that will, in a non-violent way, bring attention to this problem.”