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Hillbrow’s Ekhaya Park gets new lease on life Print E-mail
08 June 2017

The “green jewel of the Johannesburg inner city’s crown” – Ekhaya Park in Hillbrow – has received a major shot in the arm and is, once again, open to the public.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Cllr Nonhlanhla Sifumba on Wednesday, 7 June cut the ribbon to officially reopen the revamped park as part of the City’s World Environment Week celebrations.

Located on Claim Street in the heart of the Johannesburg inner city, Ekhaya Park is used by thousands of local residents who call the surrounding high-density high-rise apartment buildings home.

The park was revamped at a cost of R1.4-million by Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo (JCPZ), the custodian of the City’s green lungs.

The newly revamped park now features a new full-size synthetic soccer field, solar lighting, a new ablution block, park furniture, an embedded chess board, table tennis and traditional game facilities, themed children’s playgrounds, landscaped gardens and murals.

“Ekhaya Park and the community partnerships that have ensured this green space is kept safe and secure are bringing back a sense of community pride to Hillbrow, a Hillbrow where our children can live and play safely,” said MMC Sifumba.

“Parks such as Ekhaya are critical spaces for residents. They not only enable communities to connect with nature, but they also bring residents together for programmes, activities and recreation,” she said.

The MMC commended all the stakeholders who played a role in turning Ekhaya Park from a no-go area a few years ago into one that is now regularly used by families and other community members.

The Ekhaya Neighbourhood Improvement District was praised for establishing a forum with business, Bad Boyz Security, Seven Arrows Security, local schools, South African Police Service, JCPZ's park rangers and the community to reclaim the park from criminal elements.

MMC Sifumba said the development of safe parks was a complex issue that involved thorough pre-planning in the design phase, of which community participation and involvement, as well as supporting maintenance and security programmes and regular sporting activities, were crucial.

“Park Safety is of paramount importance for JCPZ, which is responsible for the maintenance of the facility. However, it requires the community to become closely involved in the parks’ everyday use and protection to ensure these spaces are sustained,” she said.

MMC Sifumba called on the business community to partner with the City in such initiatives for the benefit of the community. “I'd love for business to come on board and sponsor smart benches in Ekhaya Park and surrounding parks, which will provide Wi-Fi hotspots,” she noted.

Ekhaya Neighbourhood Improvement District Coordinator Bafikile Mkhize said the revamp of Ekhaya Park was a game-changer. “What was a few years ago a space people avoided has become a meeting place that is safe and inclusive. It’s because of partnerships with the community and business that we've been able to achieve this turnaround,” said Mkhize.

Ekhaya Park was officially developed in 2009 by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). The park also includes a pedestrian walkway from Pullinger Kop. MMC Sifumba appealed to residents to take pride in their park and to report any incidents of vandalism to JCPZ on 011 712 6600.

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Last Updated on 09 June 2017