‘Vandalism’ on mountain ridge creates a stir

Local resident, Stephen Child, photographs the painted rocks on the top of the eastern Little Falls mountain ridge. Photo: Stephen Child.

Boasting some of the best views of northern Roodepoort and Johannesburg, the top of the eastern Little Falls mountain ridge is enjoyed by runners and hikers alike. But earlier this month, residents were shocked to find the natural rocky areas painted over with letters and markings.

Stephen Child, a local resident who photographed the ‘vandalism’ said it was the first time he witnessed it in the eight years he runs on the paths found across the ridge. He has since notified other community members through a WhatsApp group.

“Whoever painted the rocks, left a cellphone number. Someone from the community called it and apparently it was a sort of prayer line,” he said.

Child added that what appeared to be a church name was painted on top of the number.

Religious groups are known to conduct their meetings in parks and open space across Johannesburg. Carl Mann, Ward 85 councillor, said these groups argue that they are exercising their freedom of religion.

“There are no laws that prohibit them from doing so. Only when they enter a restricted area, like a nature reserve that is locked at night, and they force their way in, can they be charged for trespassing,” he said.

But painting on park rocks, essentially council property, is considered vandalism.

“It is a bylaw violation that the Metro police can follow up on,” Mann said.

According to the City of Johannesburg’s website, the area in question is a park with a long set of koppies where gold was originally discovered on the Witwatersrand by the Strubens brothers.

Reg Mazibuko, the Little Falls and Struben’s Valley Community (Lifco) chairperson, is aware of the incident and said the community would like to see the preservation of valuable assets like the ridge.

Child said he is unsure if the painting has been removed, but was told that it would be be removed by those that painted their number, and likely the other markings, and left rollers, paint and trays on the same rocks.

Chantelle Fourie

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