After purchasing the controversial Seaview Lion Park in October last year, Jendamark has quietly set about transforming the revitalised Seaview Private Sanctuary into a haven of environmental conservation and upliftment that extends into the communities who live near the park boundaries.

Currently, the Sanctuary is in the process of being redeveloped as an outdoor eco-retreat for the company’s employees and customers. To this end, all the big cats have been rehomed, a dam has been constructed and various free-ranging wildlife species have been introduced.

Jendamark operations director Siegfried Lokotsch says that, while the park will not be open to the public, it is important that the wider Seaview community – including the informal settlements of New Rest and Zweledinga – benefit from it.

“Wherever Jendamark operates, we always try to involve the community and make a difference.”

“It’s important for us to give back not only to the animals but also to the people nearby.”

Creating awareness about taking care of the environment and keeping the surrounding area free of waste is an important first step,” says Lokotsch.

Five people from the local community have been contracted to carry out bush clearance and maintenance activities in the Sanctuary, while two more have been employed to do daily roadside litter clean-ups and assist people making use of the two municipal waste transfer sites in the area.

Waste management
Seaview ward councillor Jason Grobbelaar says the relationship between Jendamark and the municipality began in January this year when he received a call from Lokotsch about the state of the Zweledinga waste transfer site.

“There was lots of dumping around the overflowing waste skip. I mentioned the issues to him that led to the surrounding litter and that it had been reported and would be attended to. I did not expect his next message: ‘Anything I can help with?’, which is where this journey started,” says Grobbelaar.

After securing permission from Nelson Mandela Bay municipal officials, Jendamark sponsored an additional skip for each of the Zweledinga and New Rest sites, as well as informational signage indicating what may or may not be dumped there.

“The assistance provided by Jendamark is filling the gap, as the municipality does not develop informal settlements where they will be moved to a new location in the near future, which is the case for Zweledinga,” explains Grobbelaar.

“It also closes the gap where the municipality at times battles to service the area over weekends and public holidays, or when truck breakdowns occur.”

A sporting chance
Residents of the two informal settlements, who number around 800 in each, are also benefitting in other ways.

After Sanctuary custodian Jo-Ann Meiring noticed a young girl pouring paint in the dirt to outline a rustic netball court, the Jendamark team returned to lay and paint a permanent court, complete with hoops and inspirational signage. Two mobile action soccer nets were also sponsored, turning the court into a flexible sporting arena that is used daily by both young boys and girls in the area.

Zweledinga netball manager Jane Manisa says, “We are truly grateful for the wonderful and magnificent work that Jendamark has done for us.”

Care centres
In preparation for the cold winter months, Jendamark also responded to a request for mattresses, blankets and an oil heater for the Sibabalwe Daycare Centre, along with a restored jungle gym from the park. Meiring says plans are underway for a similar care centre project at New Rest.

New Rest community leader Zoliswa Mkrayi says the people are very appreciative of the interventions and the positive impact so far.

“They built the sport field for our community, which is very beautiful, and employment opportunities decrease the number of unemployed in the area [which averages around 35%]. We are still looking forward to working hand in hand with Jendamark in the future.”

Lokotsch says giving people a hand up, not a hand-out, is central to Jendamark’s sustainable support strategy.

“If we can create a community where we uplift each other, and where each person thinks about the next person, we can build a much better place for everyone.”