Residents enjoy a clean James & Ethel Gray Park thanks to dedicated citizens

Theo Fiyo with fellow helper Mvuselelo Sithole at the James and Ethel Gray Park.


There are a couple of hardworking citizens making a difference at a local park for very little pay by keeping the place in good condition for residents.

Known as the ‘Bark Park’ by locals, the James & Ethel Gray Park on Edgewood Avenue and Melrose Street, is visited by residents on a daily basis. Locals like to come to the park to exercise, enjoy the fresh air and to let their dogs run free.

With so many dogs running around the park every day, Theo Fiyo has taken it upon himself to keep the park clean after the dogs relieve themselves while there.

“I was in the neighbourhood desperately looking for a job and I came across a lady who suggested I come to this park and clean for tips. It was difficult at first but over the years, I have become a familiar face with the visitors here and some of them are generous tippers,” he explained.

Fiyo, from River Park, arrives almost every day wearing an orange official-looking vest. He has been helping out since 2009 as a way of getting a bit of money while making a difference in the community. Without Fiyo filling in the gap, visitors to the park would be faces with a very unpleasant smell.

“I could have been like those street beggars you see on the side of the road who spend their entire day asking for money, but when this opportunity came by, I thought ‘what a nice way to help out in the community’.”

Mvuselelo Sithole is a car guard at the James and Ethel Gray Park.

Mvuselelo Sithole, from Alex, is a car guard at the same park. Just like Fiyo, he too is not employed by the municipality. “When Theo told me about the work he was doing here at the park, I was unemployed too, so I decided to see how I could help.”

“I have been here since 2016 working as a car guard. Some of the people who visit this park are generous tippers but more than anything, they always show kindness towards us in the way they interact with us.”

Fiyo and Sithole said that on weekdays, they try to be at the park from about 3pm until residents leave in the evening. On weekends they try to spend the entire day there making sure that the park is clean throughout the day. On the busier days, they sometimes walk away with about R150 to R200 each from tips, particularly from residents who know that they are not employed by the municipality.

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However, because they are always wearing official-looking vests when they are working, some residents assume they are being paid by the municipality for their services.

Fiyo and Sithole have stressed that if anyone has work for them, they will be more than willing to get their hands dirty.

If you know of people making a difference in your community let us know on the Sandton Chronicle Facebook Page.

Sizwe Shabalala

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