Diepkloof gets its extreme park

In just 24 hours, Diepkloof has an inviting green park - with a big screen television to broadcast sport and other interesting programmes - where once was a dusty piece of open land.

Diepkloof Extreme Park, Soweto

THE excitement written on the faces of nine-year-old Mpho Legwabe and his friend, ten-year-old Ntokozo Mpungose, playing on the swings at the new Diepkloof XtremePark, told a happy tale.

Legwabe, from Diepkloof Zone 5, said immediately after he had had breakfast early on Saturday morning, he collected his friend and they ran to make sure they were the first people to be playing on the swings.

"I love the swings. I haven't played on the swings for a long time and I feel like I can play on them until sunset," he said, reluctantly making way for an equally excited little girl who had been standing on the sidelines waiting her turn.

The 2ha Diepkloof XtremePark, constructed in 24 hours by City Parks with the help of workers from Joburg Water, the

Johannesburg Roads Agency and community members, boasts a splash pool, a mini-soccer field, a multipurpose court, a natural amphitheatre area with a big television screen, and ablution facilities.

The extreme park makeover is an effort by City Parks to balance the location of outdoor recreation facilities - Joburg's southern suburbs were neglected by the previous government. It is also an effort to "restore the integrity" of Joburg's public open spaces and ready communities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

Officially unveiling the extreme park on the evening of Friday, 9 May, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo said it was for the people of Soweto, particularly those living in Diepkloof, to enjoy.

"The challenge is to make sure that you maintain the park and make sure it is not vandalised," he said.

Masondo also laid a wreath at the Vuyani Mabaxa Memorial, at the heart of the park. Mabaxa, an African National Congress (ANC) activist, was killed by apartheid police in 1991.

"I am honoured to be the first person to lay a wreath at the memorial, which should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our struggle heroes," Masondo said.

Mabaxa's mother, Eslina Mabaxa, also laid a wreath at the memorial, which City Parks, after consulting with the South African Heritage Resource Agency and interested parties, plans to restore.

Luther Williamson, City Parks's managing director, said the Diepkloof extreme park would be manned by security 24 hours a day. However, he also stressed that it belonged to the community of Diepkloof and that they should take care of it.

Nomsa Radebe, a mother and resident of Diepkloof Zone 2, said the park would go a long way towards keeping children out of mischief.

"There was no decent park in Diepkloof where children could play. [It] will be the pride of our township."

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