Due to the “explosion” of exchanges on the Facebook page brought about by the third incident involving the same dogs I would like to clarify certain perceptions that the public have about us- FOFS – in this newsletter about the squatters.

We are not on the side of the squatters but are trying to make the best of a bad situation. Note:  I am referring to those on the bank directly opposite the Park who I have contact with. I cannot be held responsible for those on the servitudes to the North and South. F&S squatters, like all of us, know they should not be there and despite constant raids by JMPD, SAPS, together with Security Companies  during which possessions and food are burnt, ID’s and papers destroyed, they come back because that is the only place they have to go. Many have jobs and most come from Lesotho – fetched by Developers for cheap labour on building sites. The latter information was told to me by the Head of Parks Security when I had a meeting with him.  It is a problem which the Council has no answer or policy,  the raids do not bring a solution and it is everywhere, the length of our rivers.  Not just us.

The only way to rid the land opposite the Park of squatters is to develop it – maintained and secured so that it is no longer available to squat on. For 6 years  we have tried to negotiate with JPC, been to countless meetings, drawn up numerous plans, done many presentations, etc. etc . with Forest Farm who hold the key to doing that as they own the Nichol frontage of the Park portion below.  Due to their unfortunate history with JPC who are behind the Park development, there was always a degree of negativity but we finally came to an agreement last October only to have it sunk by the Chairman of the TACCP.

With numbers increasing and the community angry, we are aware of this and share your frustration, I again contacted JPC to re-look at the failures and come up with new ideas to bring Forest Farm on board or we would have to develop without them.  In the last month I have been to three meetings with the new consultants, Durapi, UE, Arup giving them the background and yesterday they and their team gave a presentation to Forest Farm and us with a new approach regarding financial return,  99 year lease, development etc. and for us, FOFS, turning the whole portion, INCLUDING THE WHOLE PARK into an ID – Improvement District, financed, secured and maintained. What we all want.  An extended Park over the river, safe and free of squatters.

We and Forest Farm had certain reservations which they have taken into account and within two weeks they will come back to us with the revised “Concept”. If we and Forest Farm agree on it in principal,  a public meeting will be called for the community to give their input.

Again, Forest Farm are the key player in this. If they back out then we will have to do it without them with Park.  Perhaps there is a corporate or individual out there who cares enough about our precious green lung who would sponsor it or get constructively involved. If ANYONE has a constructive suggestion please contact me – rose@fofs.co.za.    Rose J.