Metro pulls plug on market in the reserve

Distraught animals among the motorists visiting the market.  Photo: Supplied
Distraught animals among the motorists visiting the market. Photo: Supplied

Tshwane metro has put a temporary halt to the arts and craft market at Rademeyer’s restaurant in the Moreleta Kloof nature reserve.

The surprise move by the metro followed complaints by several residents who said the market – with its 130 stalls – did not belong in a nature reserve where wild animals roamed freely.

Metro spokesman Lindela Mashigo said although the city had done its homework before granting permission for the market, but would be cancelled pending an investigation.

“In the interim, the City will be discontinuing the market until such time as this matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned,” Mashigo said.

Explaining why the market had been given the go-ahead in a protected area in the first place, he said an opportunity had been identified to establish a market on the portion of the reserve leased by Rademeyer’s restaurant.

“To this end city officials, together with the Friends of Moreleta discussed the idea and also the possible pitfalls regarding the establishment of such a market, both on the surrounding area and residents adjacent to the reserve as well as on the reserve itself.”

“These issues were discussed at length and by and large were deemed to be manageable with no meaningful negative impact on anyone or on the reserve itself,” Mashigo said.

He added that the metro also believed the market would help to create an awareness of this urban reserve.

“We had hoped that this would draw people that had hereto not been aware of the reserve to the facility and enjoy a healthy outdoor activity in beautiful surroundings,” Mashigo said.

According to the metro, feedback received so far had been positive and complaints which had been received by Rekord had not thus far been channeled to the city.

“So we are currently unaware of the exact nature of the complaints.”

According to Mashigo, Tshwane nature conservation staff had monitored the impact of the first event on the animals, the reserve and the surrounds and had dealt with a minor problem regarding parking arrangements. “Other than that, conservation staff had noted nothing of concern. They were therefore by and large satisfied with the event and with how it was managed.”

Mashigo stressed that the area in which the market was held was not in an ecologically sensitive area which would not be negatively impacted by the hosting of a market twice a month.

“Furthermore, the animals which have been introduced to the reserve are well used to people and will also not be traumatised by the hosting of the market, indeed, if the presence of people disturbs them, they will move away to another part of the reserve, they are not confined to cages where they are unable to move away from a source of irritation or distress.”

Mashigo requested residents who had raised concerns and complaints about the market to contact the metro directly for resolution.

The opportunity to address the matter was welcomed by residents who regularly visited the reserve.

Willie Marneweck, who visited the reserve at least five times a week with his wife Lydia, said they enjoyed the quiet and calm of the reserve.

“There are enough street markets in our area with Wekker Street being very close,” he said, adding that he believed the animals were negatively affected by the activity created by the market.

Jeannie du Plessis, who volunteered almost daily to work in the reserve, agreed saying there were other commercial sites available that were more suitable for markets and would not result in animals and flora being negatively impacted.

“Motorists visiting the market do not keep to the speed limit and some get frustrated by having to wait for animals used to free movement around the reserve and Rademeyer’s restaurant.

Du Plessis claimed that no regular visitors to the Moreleta Kloof reserve or residents adjacent to the reserve had been informed about the decision to start a market. “People were only made aware of the fact after contracts had been signed already.”

She stressed the importance on conserving green areas within cities and said it should be treated like gold.

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