Locals say the grass has not been mown in most parts of Komani for more than a year as Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality’s (EMLM) grass maintenance equipment was stolen.
According to a concerned resident, Azikiwe Xashimba, this explained why cemeteries, sportsfields, residential areas and parks were overgrown. Xashimba said: “I found out about the stolen machines from one of the municipal workers. Top Town grass was cut by members of the Queenstown Bowling Club and Queen’s College.”
He said this was a reflection that the person in charge of maintenance appointed by EMLM was incompetent.
After a public outcry about the lack of maintenance, The Rep reported that the Queenstown cemetery was filthy and overgrown and sports venues had fallen into ruin, on January 22.
The Rep reporter interviewed municipal workers to find out if they knew anything about the stolen machines. However their names could not be mentioned for fear of losing their jobs.
The first employee said: “We know the machines were stolen, but no one knows who stole them. This happened between stages four and five of the lockdown period when the municipal workers were at home. We returned to work during stage 3 and there was no equipment to work with.”
The employee said the grass was being maintained with only two machines at the moment. They were used to mow the Chris Hani Hexagon this week and a portion of the Memorial Gardens.
The second employee said: “The storage place for the machines had a lock and an alarm system. There were more than seven machines in the store.”
Komani4Me secretary Jacqueline Wijtenburg confirmed that only parts of Top Town were maintained by Queen’s College and the Queenstown Bowling Club as the residential area was huge.
She said this was to bring dignity, beauty and safety and not to criticise the EMLM.
DA councillor Tokkie Deysel said: “I approached people to assist in Komani Park and Top Town. Mark Sahd and Piet van der Walt played a major role in assisting in Komani Park. We are not only looking at these two places, but all over town people are coming on board.”
EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said there was a break-in at the storage place in 2018 and materials, including new machines, were stolen.
“A case was opened with the South African Police Service. The municipality is still able to maintain the grass, but far less than the optimum degree due to the theft and to mechanical problems with the machinery. The machinery is currently under repair and normal operations will resume as soon as it is available.”
However, Kowa did not respond to questions about the machinery which employees alleged to have been stolen last year.