Chairman’s report 2023
I always begin writing these reports (I seem to have been doing them for too many years) by reading
last year’s report – and a few of the earlier ones – to see if I am just repeating myself. And
sometimes I am.
Last year I commented on how many people are using the park and I can happily say that the
numbers have not dropped. Clearly it is a very popular venue for parties and gatherings. And film
companies love us. Lots of organisations want to have events in the park and all of that is what
justifies our existence. What is sadder than an unused public space?
Thanks to the City for repairing the fountain pond, for the rangers, the public toilets, the refuse
removal and mowing the lawns. When trees have fallen or had to be felled, they have attended to it
for us, and I know that they are negotiating the restoration of the wall on Upper Orange Street and
the refurbishment of the band stand. I am hoping they can help us with resurfacing the service road
which now has as many potholes as a street in Gauteng, and the battle to save our trees. So, a big
thank you to our Ward Councillor, Fran Higham and to Zunaid Allie, the Principal Facility Officer of
the City’s Recreation and Parks Department. We are just one of over twenty parks in the city bowl
and I know that the City’s resources are often stretched to the limit.
Straatwerk continues to clean the pond every week, empty bins and clear the gutters etc twice a
week. We no longer provide the toilet paper and cleaning materials for the toilets, but we do supply
many rolls of poo bags. Thank you to Sharon Esposito for getting these for us.
We have signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the City. This sets out our relationship
with the city and defines our roles and responsibilities. I am very pleased that the city calls for
permits when people want to bring in jumping castles, trucks and other devices that could be the
source of an injury. The City has public liability, but it won’t apply if you have not got their
permission to use the park. Making application and filling in forms may seem tedious, but it is better
to be safe than sorry.
It would be nice to see the grass cut more regularly, for trees to be trimmed, the paths retarred, the
old benches refurbished and for the children’s play area to get a makeover. A group of mothers
headed by Celeste Rich has approached us to that end, and we are right behind them. Better and
safer equipment for little ones as well as some equipment for the older kids are part of Celeste’s
The rangers lock the toilets and the park at night and unlock the gates in the morning. They check to
see that people have the right permits and they have been a source of reassurance for many
nervous visitors. Despite the park being a perfect haven for the homeless, we do not have anyone
We have met with the Friends of other Parks in the city, and we hope to be able to assist them and
enjoy benefits from them through this arrangement. Despite the fact that we all operate in the city
bowl our problems are different. Most of our visitors drive to De Waal Park and so parking is an
issue. Other parks have no water. There are a few dog-free parks, but a common complaint is the
poo problem which affect most of us. Interestingly the issue of security was not raised.
There are many people who need to be thanked: there are our generous donors Minuteman Press,
RE/MAX Living and Fiona and Sean Baumann. People who double their annual membership fees,
Susanna Noll and Joerg Schilling who make monthly contributions. People like William Combrink
who contribute to our special Dogs of the Park fund. Bruce Majonga of the coffee stand who not
only runs a very successful fundraising exercise for us but has contributed in other ways like selling
our calendar and selling t-shirts, mugs, etc. Janet Manca whose crocheted dog which we raffled last
year raised R740.00. The film companies who have donated R25 000 and all the others who have
contributed to a total of R28 000.
Then there is the committee. Jennifer, our remarkable secretary who is the human face of the
Friends. Renate, our treasurer keeps our finances in order and battles with a nit-picking bank.
Wendy who provides solid advice and brings me back to the point at committee meetings. Jorge
hosts our Facebook page, replaces poo bags and is remarkably calm in any crisis. Philip explains to
me how things SHOULD work in the Council. Oliver creates the calendar, taking the photos, then
selecting them (with Jennifer’s help) and preparing it for printing by Minuteman Press. He also looks
after our website and offers practical advice. And Ed provides economic savvy and great humour.
Without this team we could not have done what we did this year.
I am grateful to all of you. I think it is a fabulous park and so do many others. I hope to see you there.