The genesis of Whoonga Park

DCIM100GOPRO“After dark, they rape us whenever they want to. I would not wish this life upon anyone, but I can’t stop . . . .”

These chilling words of an abused woman brought into the public spotlight, five years ago, the existence of a peculiar “park” in Durban where hundreds of down-and-out job seekers, muggers, beggars, school drop-outs and  destitute folk with fiery glazed stares used to gather everyday – and throughout the nights – for a Whoonga toke.

This series of stories is as relevant today as it was back in 2012 when a team of Durban University Technology journalism students were assigned to follow up a story in Sunday Tribune,  Homeless resist removal bid.  Whoonga Park_1As the students’ work fieldwork revealed, there was a lot more to the story. Resistance to removal was not coming from ordinary homeless folk, but a drugged-up crowd camped out on a tear-shaped piece of inner city land opposite the DUT city campus. Students called the place Whoonga Park. It took two weeks to get responses from city officials to an increasingly nasty crime situation developing – and another two years to start addressing the problem.

A peculiar park where cops even fear to tread

DCIM100GOPRO

The girls of Whoonga park 

DCIM100GOPROWithin the four walls of the Durban University of Technology city campus we are safe physically as well as psychologically. But step outside this cocoon and it’s another world altogether.”  – Nosipho Mngoma, 2012. Click here  to read the full story

Hooked up with a Whoonga dealer

Twice for breakfast, twice at lunch, and twice in the evening, as well as a few drags here and there with friends. Such is Mabuyi’s whoonga routine. Click here to read the full story.

An abridged version of this package of stories was published by the Sunday Tribune. Click here to view the pdf of the published story.

Whoonga Park_Tribune

THE ORIGINAL LOCATION OF WHOONGA PARK

Whoonga Map

Since early 2014, city authorities have embarked on regular clean operations around the DUT city campus. and the original area that once was Whoonga Park (pictured above) is now razor fenced with permanent security presence. The park has, so to speak, “migrated”, duplicating itself in different guises around the area, wqkith railway tracks below the M. This Google Earth satellite image depicts the location of Whoonga Park when it was a once clean, manicured patch of railway land.

THE STUDENTS WHO GOT THE SCOOP

Nosipho_Anathi and NdabeDurban University of Technology journalism graduates, Nosipho Mngoma (top), Ndabenhle Mthembu (left) and Anathi Teyise (right).

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