City resident, Rene Morcom, recently objected to being asked to pay when her family visited the Chase Valley Park for a picnic.
The park is managed by an NGO called Growing Parks headed by occupational therapist, Farhana Vally. Entrance is free but there is a charge for group visitors. The feud between the Morcoms and Vally began earlier this month when Morcom took her family of 17 to the park for a picnic. The Morcoms were allegedly asked by the security guard to pay a fee of R300 because they were a large group, and they refused. The guard then called Vally who got police to remove the Morcoms from the park. Morcom subsequently contacted ward councillor Melika Singh who informed them that Growing Park’s lease was no longer valid. The Morcoms returned to the park for another outing and was again asked to pay but refused. This time, when the police arrived, they were unable to take any action after being shown a copy of the email from Singh. Vally subsequently applied for a restraining order against the Morcoms alleging she felt threatened and harrassed by them.
Magistrate S Collins dismissed the case saying there was no unreasonable harm caused to Vally, who claimed in her affidavit that she felt threatened and that the harassment by the Morcoms was traumatising to her and her family emotionally and psychologically. Vally intends appealing the court’s decisions. The park is now closed to the public with a municipal notice informing visitors that the facility was closed for renovations.
Vally said she was surprised to hear that her lease was no longer valid saying she was taking the matter up with city officials.
“I have a good relationship with senior managers at the municipality and the issue is being discussed with them. I was surprised to read Mandla Zuma’s comments in another publication because it’s his job to process the lease applications. We are a NPO that rehabilitates dangerous, neglected and polluted areas previously a hazard to the community. We installed equipment, which is under the ownership of Growing Parks. We also provide security for the safety of our patrons. We receive no funding from the municipality and all fundraising is done privately, through the efforts of Growing Parks management,” said Vally.
Singh was not able to shed light on the matter and referred the Public Eye to the municipality, where no comment was forthcoming despite several attempts.