From dumpsite to vegetable garden
A BUSINESSMAN who turned a Pietermaritzburg dumpsite into a free vegetable garden for non-profit organisations has been summoned to court as the Msunduzi Municipality threatens to proceed with a high court interdict against him if the land is not restored to its previous state.
Ali Akbar Moosa, a co-owner of Willowton Logistics, started the vegetable garden in 2014 on the vacant piece of municipal land behind his company premises in Ohrtmann Road, and has since supplied nine non-profit organisations with free vegetables.
The summons was issued in October, but Moosa said he received it only last month.
“Since the 1970s my family and I have been maintaining this piece of land, because our company was in front of it,” he said.
“We had to ensure the area was clean to avoid attracting rodents.
“Over the years people used the site as a dumping ground. Each time I would hire people to clean it up.”
With his team of workers, which includes farm manager Sunil Manisunker and Nikesh Singh, who handles the distribution of the vegetables, close to 400 adults and children are fed each month.
“We grow and harvest a variety of vegetables. Among them are cabbage, kale, tomatoes, corn, brinjal, butternut and cauliflower. With the current drought, these non-profit organisations cannot afford to buy vegetables and they rely on us to help them.”
Moosa said that before issuing the summons, the municipality should have visited the site to see what was being done and how it was being maintained.
For the beneficiaries of the fresh produce, the vegetable garden has saved them enormous sums of money.
Sujata Pillay, manager of the local Aryan Benevolent Home for the Aged and Sunlit Gardens home for Children, said: “As part of the ABH, we run the children’s home and frail care unit.
“Both our homes have been fortunate enough to benefit from the garden.
“The vegetables feed 50 children and 32 adults.
‘Fresh produce is so expensive these days and the donation from the garden makes a big difference with costs.
“From peppers, to cabbages to calabashes, we receive them in abundance.”
Linda Rees, chief executive of the Marian Home for the Aged, said: “This donation impacts the way we run our kitchen.
“The municipality needs to reconsider their decision.”
Msunduzi Municipality spokeswoman Nqobile Mandonda declined to comment, saying the matter was before the court.
With the current situation in South Africa, unemployment, children and old people suffering daily, I feel that the legal action taken against these people are not going to solve the problem of food shortage to the organizations the Mr Moosa and his staff are supplying. Love is sharing, in forms of food, shelter and more. It is not cutting off a food supply which is much needed by organizations that benefit from the work they are doing here.