Tshwane resident Djo Bankuna with his cabbage patch. Officers in Tshwane say he is contravening bylaws.
Tshwane resident Djo Bankuna with his cabbage patch. Officers in Tshwane say he is contravening bylaws.

Tshwane resident ready to call it a day for cabbage patch feeding the poor after being ‘threatened’ by TMPD officers

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Sep 13, 2021

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Johannesburg - A Tshwane resident is ready to call it a day for his cabbage patch, which feeds those in need, after he has been allegedly threatened with arrest by Tshwane metro police officers.

Last week, Djo Bankuna took to Facebook to detail how TMPD officers had threatened him with arrest for growing a vegetable garden.

This was apparently not allowed, and only flowers or grass was allowed, a shocked Bankuna was told.

When he sought to get permission to continue with his vegetable garden from City of Tshwane officials, he became the butt of jokes as they laughed at him and told him no such permission was required.

Tshwane resident Djo Bankuna with his cabbage patch. Officers in Tshwane say he is contravening bylaws.
Tshwane resident Djo Bankuna with his cabbage patch. Officers in Tshwane say he is contravening bylaws.

“On Thursday at 9am, two (Tshwane) metro police officers came to my home and threatened me with arrest. My sin was to plant vegetables instead of grass and flowers on my pavement.

“I was told that Tshwane by-laws only permit grass and flowers outside, not cabbage, onion and spinach.

“I was instructed to apply at the city council for the permission to plant vegetables outside, or replace my veggies with grass, roses or nothing. I did not argue. Today at 9.30am, I complied, and there I was trying to file a cabbage planting application at the Tshwane council offices in Wonderpark,” he wrote on Facebook.

He was told at the council offices that there was no such by-law or permit.

“After so much laughter, Johan and Vincent sent me away empty handed without a permit. I decided to pass via the metro offices in Winternest to give feedback about my failure to secure the cabbage-planting permit.

“It was a very bad mistake. Upon arrival at the JMPD offices, my wife and I were rudely ushered straight across the building to the office of the TMPD boss, Mr Elvis Ndlovu.

“The angry metro police office commander insisted that cabbage is not allowed outside, by-law or no by-law.

“He just does not like it, period. Instead of taking me through the by-laws and pointing to the relevant sections relating to my contravention, he angered up. Things went bad to worse when I asked him to give me a written notice of my contravention, that is when his oil began to boil. I am told that if I do not remove my cabbage by Tuesday (September 14) my arrest and jailing is 100% guaranteed.

“I guess I will be the first Cabbage Bandit in Gauteng,” wrote Bankuna.

Tshwane resident Djo Bankuna with his cabbage patch. Officers in Tshwane say he is contravening bylaws.

Bankuna said he was willing to go to jail for his cabbage patch protest.

“I am a law abiding citizen,” he wrote. “If Tshwane by-laws outlaw the planting of cabbage and onions outside, I will obey it. If it is written in black and white, I will not say more but kill that cabbage.

“But I am not going to destroy my food based on a spiritual by-law or Commander Ndlovu's dislike of cabbage and onions. He is the metro police boss at the Winternest office, I respect that, but that does not make his hatred of cabbage the law. So, jail it is for me on Tuesday,” he wrote.

On Monday, Bankuna changed his tune and said he would not go to jail over cabbage.

But he had message for the Tshwane authorities on the matter.

“How I became the Cabbage Bandit.

“I did not want to plant vegetables. I planted grass and roses. I planted vegetables and ended in trouble with the law because of her. My wife is a professional social worker and she does voluntary work in the Soshanguve area.

“She has a habit of taking things to help the people that she comes across in her work. She takes vegetables, clothes, books and whatever she can find to assist in the various situations that she comes across. I planted the vegetable garden to assist her cause and also save money at the Fruit & Veg till.

“I also discovered that the vegetables last longer and remain fresh when planted as they are only harvested when required.

“I started with the now troublesome corner patch on impulse, when I discovered that 20 roses I wanted to plant were R180 each.I then switched to crops which were much cheaper at R15/pack of seeds. Also the road reserve gets excellent sunlight, more than the inside the yard where there is too much shade.

“The garden was so successful that last summer I moved across the park side where I planted mealies, pumpkin and other crops.

“From the park side, I had to clear grass that was more than a metre tall.

“I had no complaint from Mr Pieter Dicks, Tshwane Parks Manager, for removing the tall grass and planting 60m² of food.

“My neighbours eat here, my family eat here, the recyclers on bin Thursday eat here and my wife’s people in Soshanguve eat here. Free. On top of that, I get a free workout,” he wrote.

“But if our TMPD insists on their dislike of my garden, I will chop it all. There is no need for a fight to the death. Yes, I am a coward. I would rather spend my energy and money paying my son’s varsity fees and parents’ medical bills than pay legal fees.

“Sometimes, you must let power win to live,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Tshwane’s MMC for community safety Karen Meyer told The Citizen that they had received a complaint about the garden patch.

“A complaint was received. TMPD had to attend to it,” she told The Citizen, also insisting that Bankuna needed permission from the municipality to use the road reserves.

“It is correct to get permission from the council first. The only way to change it is to change the by-law,” she said.

The TMPD spokesperson, Isaac Mahamba, could not be reached.


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