Community pitch in to clean field

Juven Rittles, Farieda Moses and Rieduwaan Emandien who handed out food to the community

A group of Montrose Park
residents are taking back
their spaces in the community and making sure they are clean
and safe for all to use. 

Rieduwaan Emandien, children from his community, and
his neighbours Emily Scheepers,
Wafiekah Peterson, and Ebrahim
Whittle took up the challenge of
cleaning a field in Bertha Street,
which had become a dumping
site and was attracting a criminal
element, he said. 
“It is important to have safe
spaces for children,” said Ms
Scheepers.
If they have a safe space to play,
they will stay off the street and away
from crime, Ms Peterson added. 
The two women also help distribute food in their community.
Mr Emandien said the area had
been in a bad state for almost 10
years. 
“The area is infested with gang
activity, shootings, killings and
drug use. I decided to start cleaning this area last month as I have
had enough of it being occupied
for the wrong reasons,” he said. 
The community had also committed to keep the area clear of
dumping, said Mr Emandien, who
would like to eventually turn part
of the land into a community vegetable garden.
“This has been my idea for the
longest time,” he said. 
“We need to
make a change in order to see the
change happen. If we won’t do it,
who will?”
Mr Emandien and his family
have been feeding people from
their home as well as from the field
that they cleaned. 
Unchain the Plain, an organisation which provides sporting equipment to schools in underprivileged
communities, supported Mr Emandien’s initiative by donating sports
equipment to the children in the
area. 
Co-founder and project manager of Unchain the Plain, Juven
Rittles, said it was amazing to see
everyone coming together to claim
their spaces. 
“It is important that
the children play. We cannot let
crime take up space, we cannot
live in fear but that the community
reclaim and take back the spaces
that belong to them,” he said. 
“When the lockdown period is
over we look forward to hosting
the various communities for a day
of sports.” 
Mr Emandien also hopes that at
some point the area can be fenced
off and locked after hours to control access. 
Mr Emandien also contacted
Ward 116 councillor Michael
Pietersen who said any group or individual who wanted to start a
food garden must communicate
this to his office in writing, to ask
permission to use the open space. 
Before approval was granted, he
said, the application would have
to be assessed by the department
which owns the land, to determine that the land has no value,
cannot be sold or that there is no
bulk infrastructure running underneath. 
For more details, contact Mr
Emandien at 078 193 0430 or email
rieduwaan.emandien@gmail.com