The GEKCO – 702 walk the talk Protest
Fifty-one local members of GEKCO (the Greater Kyalami Conservancy) Green Neighbourhood project and children, teachers and parents from the Cedarwood School joined together to walk the 5km 702 walk-the-talk to protest the proposed building of the K56 highway through Glenferness. Cedarwood School, a ‘special needs school’ is directly in the path of the proposed road, and would be demolished if the road goes ahead as planned.
Two ponies, ‘Pollyflinders’ and ‘Flash’ (owned and handled by Tarryn Rault and Jo-Anne Dicks respectively) led the group along the roads while many willing and experienced people helped out along the way to give the ponies breathing space from the 22 000 people in the 5k section of the walk. The ponies did their job as the “wow-factor” required to draw attention to the plight. “We did what we came to do, highlight our plight and to start to create awareness about the Green Neighbourhood project,” said Margie Donde. “I was interviewed on 702 radio just before 9am about our issue, and we got a special mention and a round of applause from Aki Anastasiou at the start and we were interviewed by super sport along the route.”
The Kyalami area is currently under serious threat of over development with proposals of the highway and construction projects that would threaten the rural nature of the area. Kyalami has the most viable horse (equine) industry in South Africa which requires open space, large properties, and minimal traffic as residents often ride along the streets of the suburbs. The Gauteng Horse Society and Lippizzaner Centre have their base here and attract thousands of riders and spectators to the area. The equine industry here supports thousands of jobs within the immediate area and as far away as the Western Cape.
The Green Neighbourhood project is an initiative of the GEKCO conservancy to promote environmentally sensitive practices, and to retain the open space and rural nature of the area. Opposing construction of the K56 highway is one of the many projects adopted to achieve this. Promoting sustainable practices, outdoor activities, the protection of biodiversity and open space is at the crux of GEKCO’s vision to keep this area as one of the few remaining ‘green lung’ areas for the City.
Our grateful thanks to all those involved, especially Jayne Eurelle and Dawn Schmidt of Cedarwood School, Andrew Dicks for taking charge of getting the ponies to the venue safely, Betts Townsend for their generous sponsorship of the Tshirts, and all the walkers who took the time to walk for our cause!