City gives nod for Searle Street Park fence

Pupils from schools near the Searle Street Park gathered there last month to raise awareness of problems plaguing the amenity.

The City has given volunteers the green light to build a fence around the Searle Street Park in Walmer Estate to keep schoolchildren safe.

The fence will benefit nearby schools that use the field including Holy Cross Primary School, Zonnebloem Nest Senior School, Zonnebloem Boys’ Primary School and Zonnebloem Girls’ Primary School.

For years, Holy Cross has battled to get a proper playground for its pupils who currently play in Upper Nile Street next to the school at break. The school had hoped to turn land next to its main building into a playground, but the site is subject to District Six land claims (“Playground’ earmarked for D6 claimants,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, September 20, 2018).

Then in April last year, ward councillors Yusuf Mohamed and Francine Highham met with Holy Cross and City officials to discuss the possibility of the school using the Searle Street Park as its playground (“Park could beat playground blues for Holy Cross,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, June 23, 2022)

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross said approval had now been given for a fence.

“The City is aware of the project and could provide support subject to budget availability,” she said.

Holy Cross school volunteer Delia Scott has been helping with fund-raising for the fence, which has so far brought in R80 000. “A quote of around R196 000 has been obtained to erect a 2.4 metre high fence with a gate, which will ensure the safety of the children and keep out any possible interference,” she said.

Last late month, pupils and staff from the schools in the area met at the park to raise awareness of problems plaguing the amenity.

Holy Cross principal Nomthandazo Zweni said there was a large homeless community in the area. “We would like our children to play sport, and we don’t have facilities at the school, so to use this park for sport would be a bonus for the children,” she said.

Zonnebloem Nest Senior School teacher Aphiwe Mpahleni said pupils felt vulnerable walking past the park as street people sold drugs there. “When it’s load shedding in the morning, it’s even more dangerous for pupils to walk past the park,” she said.

The City said in a statement that Law Enforcement patrolled parks but could not be at every park all the time, and the public should report any suspicious behaviour and criminal activity to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre at 021 480 7700 from a cellphone and 107 from a landline.

To support Holy Cross’s fund-raising efforts, contact Ms Scott at bodger2@mweb.co.za or 072 282 4346.

Holy Cross Primary School pupils use the Searle Street Park for their PE classes.