Djo BaNkuna aka the ‘Cabbage Bandit’ has been growing food on his front lawn for the last three years with an aim to feed starving people in his unfortunate community.
From healthy mealies, cabbages, sweet potatoes and more. However, the cops came knocking on BaNkuna’s door, threatening him with jail time if he didn’t remove his free crops from his front yard.
The ‘Cabbage Bandit’ shared his experience on Facebook and since then, the post has gone viral and has inspired many South African citizens to plant cabbages of their own for Djo.
Here is Djo ‘Cabbage Bandit’ BaNkuna’s story:
“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 situation that she comes across. This part of her work she does not want to talk about, so I will pause it before I suffer her wrath.”
“I planted the vegetable garden to assist her cause and also save money at the fruit and veg till. I admit it, my concern was more on saving money from buying vegetables to donate. 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 than the inside the yard where there is too much shade.”
“The garden was so successful that last summer I moved across to 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 meter tall. I had no complaint from Mr Pieter Dicks, Tshwane Parks Manager, for removing the tall grass and planting 60sqm of food. My neighbours eat here, my family eat here, the recyclers on bin Thursday eat here and my wives people in Soshanguve eat here. Free. On top of that, I get a free workout.”
“But if it is unlawful, I will chop it all. There is no need for a fight to the death over a head of cabbage.”
“Believe it or not. Miracles happen.”
“On Thursday, September 8 at 9am, two armed 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 permission to plant vegetables outside or replace my veggies with grass/roses or nothing. I did not argue. On Friday, September 10, at 9:30am, I complied, and there I was trying to file a cabbage planting application at the Tshwane council offices in Wonderpark.”
“Needless to say, the council’s land-use and by-laws section have not heard of such a by-law or permit. It does not exist. 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. Yerrrr! 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.”
“I am a law-abiding citizen. 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!”
Picture/s: Facebook / Djo BaNkuna