The decaying state of Gandhi Centenary Park has caused uproar within the community of Chatsworth who’ve watched commemoration park slowly decaying.

The “shameful” state of the park located within the heart of Chatsworth recently led resident, Athenkosi Mjulwa, to complain on the eThekwini Municipality Facebook page. He wrote: “Dear eThekwini… I’m proud of the work that you do in most areas especially around Chatsworth… But I have a concern. Throughout the years we’ve had a very beautiful park right across Chatsworth Centre. It’s been neat and beautifully maintained. But recently, for almost a year or so it’s been nothing but a site for drinking, there is litter, alcohol bottles and it’s not maintained at all. Can you please do something about it please.” (Sic)

Mjulwa, who used to frequently visit the park with his friends and family, said they are no longer able to go there due to the state of disrepair the park is in, also highlighting safety as another reason for avoiding Gandhi Centenary Park. He said: “Now you can’t even take your family out there. We grew up going to that park but now it’s a disappointment. There used to be flowers, beautiful canals and it was extremely neat and safe. I’d see families doing picnics there but recently, canals are replaced with dirt, alcohol bottles, no flowers and the park smells. It’s also unsafe as there are sometimes beggars around. Each and every day there groups of people drinking and the police just pass and act like it’s a normal thing. The Metro Police is right across the park.”

The park in the Chatsworth CBD was transformed from a street block reserved as a public open space during the 90’s, when funding was allocated to refurbish the park into the present gardens and venue. the project had been undertaken by the eThekwini Parks Department with design input from the Landscape Architecture Division. However, over the past few months, the park commemorating the centenary arrival of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa is no longer being cared for by the city. Attractive features such as the continuous water course, small amphitheater and a bust of Ghandi are in a stated decay.

Ward 73 Councillor Devraj Pillay said the matter will be reported to the relevant departments within the municipality. He said: “I recently had a meeting with Parks and SAPS about improving security measures around the park. So the safety is being dealt with, because we’re looking to have security in park, throughout the day.”

He however, said the cleanliness issues could be resolved with more effort from community members who use the park. “The Department of Parks and Gardens is always there cleaning up. EPWP workers, everyday are at the park but no matter how many times the Gandhi Park is cleaned, people always leave their rubbish and do illegal dumping, so I cannot say that Parks don’t do their job. I will go back to them and find out how often they clean the park. The community must also look after the park and clean-up after themselves. The community needs to be educated on waste management, because that leads to rodent infestations. And the dumping of bottles is a danger to all that use the park.
At the time of going to print, comment from eThekwini Municipality was still forthcoming.