Chairperson of the Zoo Lake Users Group, Fran Haslam is heartbroken after an over 80-year-old tree fell down at Zoo Lake on 31 October.
“The tree fell because people put hot coals at the base of the trees after braaing illegally in the park. There is a designated braai area at the park but people don’t abide by the by-laws,” said Haslam.
She highlighted that this has been taking place every weekend for a long time.
“The City is not enforcing the by-laws. They need to put up signage educating people about the braai area,” said Haslam.
She said that in 2015, another tree fell over injuring two people. “I thank God that nobody got hurt when this tree fell. It is nearby the children’s play area and people could die if the tree falls on them. People need to realise the seriousness of the situation,” she said.
Haslam pointed to a number of other trees in the nearby vicinity which she believes could also fall down if people continue putting hot coals on them.
“Our mantra as the Zoo Lake Users Group is to create a clean, green and safe park for all, and unfortunately the park is not safe if trees are falling over,” she added.
A spokesperson for Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) Jenny Moodley said that they are mindful of the ongoing concerns regarding illegal braais in non-designated areas at Zoo Lake, adding that one of her concerns is that the existing facilities are inadequate.
“Random policing by rangers has helped in containing the problem, so we did new signs appealing to residents to refrain from putting up braai stands and disposing the ash at the base of trees,” said Moodley.
She said that JCPZ has also undertaken education and awareness campaigns at Zoo Lake together with Metro officers to sensitise users about the impact of their actions, adding that festive season blitz campaigns are being planned to contain the problems around by-law transgression.
“One of the solutions would be to erect a fully fledged braai area in the quadrant opposite the children’s play area; however, this requires support from residents.”