The palisade fencing that surrounds the once open public playground, is adorned with advertisement boards which has left a sour taste in the mouths of some residents. This week, Zantelle Ras, for the first time, met with the municipal manager in his office at the GTM buildings.

Tzaneen Projects initiator, Zantelle Ras, this week Tuesday, the 8th of December, met with the Greater Tzaneen Municipality’s municipal manager, Thapelo Matlala. Bulletin periodically joined the conversation via speakerphone. The purpose of the meeting was for both Ras and Matlala to gain a better understanding of the project and to discuss the processes and procedures of projects on council property. Some of the concerns pertaining to the Minitzani Park project that were tabled by members of the community through Bulletin, were also discussed.

Last week, Matlala said that he had requested a report on the project and would start by meeting with Ras to discuss the matter. This week he reiterated that though the project is a fantastic initiative, there does exist certain procedures that must be followed to ensure all parties involved in the project abide by the bylaws. He is in the process of looking into the matter and has requested for time to respond appropriately to the concerns raised by members of the community. He also gave the assurance that any such uplifting initiatives would be supported by the municipality provided the necessary process, which included tabling a proposal which would have to be presented to council and advertised for public input, be followed.

The signboards on the fence which has now completely closed off the once publicly accessible park, have been steadily increasing. There are now 37 of these signboards hanging on the fence. Each signboard, according to Ras’ explanation, costs at least R10 000.

Earlier that afternoon, Bulletin sent follow up questions about this community project to Ras for comment. We sought clarity on the finances of the project and requested a breakdown of the financial contributions by each of the sponsors.  This included the money paid for the right to hang an advertisement board on the palisade fence surrounding the park, and how much of the work and material for the upgrade was sponsored by the various contributors.

Furthermore, we noticed on their Facebook page that Tzaneen Projects was in the process of registering as an NGO under which Ras plans to initiate many more community upliftment projects including programmes to uplift and empower the youth. In our inquiry, we asked her about the progress of this registration process and what had inspired the decision.

By deadline on Thursday (yesterday), we had still received no response from her. Previous attempts to gain clarity regarding the public finances injected into the community upliftment project had resulted in naught, except for her stating that all money received was paid into the Tzaneen Swaarvoertuie account, from where suppliers of material for the project, were paid.

The once bustling hive of children’s laughter, stands vacant. The reason for this has been attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown levels and their restrictions on movement. Some residents however, have reported that they were unable to enter the park with their children, because the gate was locked.

On Friday last week, following the publication of the first article on the park, we received a WhatsApp message from Ras asking for an email address where she could forward all the requested documents to. We provided her with the email address. Following a lengthy discussion on matters related to Minitzani Park, Ras seemingly had a change of heart regarding the email and instead said she would post her response over Facebook “tonight, or over the weekend, or just whenever I want to then you can draw your answers from there. Discussion and commentary between you and I are now over.”

Minitzani Park is a public space and, by law, should be open and accessible to every member of the public at any time. We have received complaints from families who arrived at the park with their children, only to find the gate locked. On their Facebook page, Tzaneen Projects stated that the park is open but that there is still some work being done, which was delayed by the various lockdown levels. This is a developing story, and we will have an update in our next edition.