WATCH | Aikona: Tshwane man to contest fine for pavement vegetable garden

'My crime was planting cabbage – that is the crazy world we live in'

14 September 2021 - 14:57

A vegetable pavement garden, planted to help his wife's community outreach programme, has landed a Tshwane resident a fine for a bylaw infringement.

Joe Nkuna, from Theresapark in Akasia, who was given until Tuesday to remove cabbages from the pavement in front of his house, said about 20 Tshwane metro police officers travelling in five vehicles arrived at his home at noon.

According to the infringement notice given to Nkuna, he “intentionally interfered in any manner with the property of the municipality”.

TMPD spokesperson Isaac Mahamba confirmed that Nkuna was charged for obstructing the sidewalk and issued with a fine of R1,500.

Nkuna was instructed to remove the remainder of the cabbages before the end of the day.

“I will remove it, but it makes me feel very bad.”

Joe Nkuna was issued with a fine of R1,500 after planting vegetables on the pavement at his house in Theresapark.
Joe Nkuna was issued with a fine of R1,500 after planting vegetables on the pavement at his house in Theresapark.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

Nkuna said he would take legal action. “I will be emailing this document to my lawyer.”

Nkuna must appear in the Wonderboom municipal court on Nov. 23 if he does not pay the fine.

“I am not going to pay the fine,” he said on Tuesday.

As D-Day loomed ahead of the expected TMPD visit, he said he had prepared “a delicious” meal with chicken and beetroot spinach from his street harvest on Monday evening.

“Street food is fantastic, but full of troubles,” he joked.

Nkuna’s first run-in with the law was on Sep. 9, when two metro cops paid him a visit at his home. He was warned to remove the cabbages from the pavement in front of your house or answer to the law.

On Monday Nkuna told TimesLIVE he had started the vegetable garden in front of his house in 2019 to help his wife, who volunteers as part of her social work duties in Soshanguve.

The idea of a vegetable garden came to mind when they were busy renovating their home.

He said in the three years of pavement gardening, he had harvested 65 heads of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beetroot and onions.

“In March, I donated 35 huge pumpkins and 145kg of sweet potato from here. It became so successful that I moved the vegetable garden across the street to the recreational park, where I planted mielies, pumpkin and other crops.”

He said on Thursdays, the recycling people get food from his bins.

“I leave vegetables there for them and I leave a note to say they must take one and leave for others.”

Joe Nkuna also planted mielies, pumpkin and other crops at a nearby park after being granted permission by the site's manager.
Joe Nkuna also planted mielies, pumpkin and other crops at a nearby park after being granted permission by the site's manager.
Image: Supplied

On Monday, Tshwane MMC for community safety Karen Meyer said a complaint about Nkuna’s vegetable garden was received.  

Meyer referred to section 8(1) a of the municipal bylaws that state “the road reserve belongs to the municipality”.

“Permission must be asked from a landowner before you do anything on someone else’s property,” she said. “It is correct to get permission from council first.”

Nkuna, who now refers to himself as a “cabbage bandit”, said he has been a law-abiding citizen all his life.

“I never had any criminal records or committed any crimes — my first crime was planting cabbage. That is the crazy world we live in.”

TimesLIVE


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