Djo BaNkuna has shared his love of gardening with passersby for three years by growing vegetables on his front lawn; now, he is going viral as the Cabbage Bandit!
Pretoria, South Africa (13 September 2021) – The Cabbage Bandit has gone viral in South Africa for all the right reasons! Firstly, because in a country filled with starving people, being told you cannot grow free food for others in front of your house is madness, and secondly, nobody actually knows the rules, and that should probably change!
Djo BaNkuna has been growing food on his front lawn for the last three years. From a healthy pumpkin patch to an unbelievable sweet potato crop. This year he planted cabbages. Before long, the cops came knocking, threatening Djo with jail time if he didn’t remove the free crop from his front yard.
Djo shared his entire experience on Facebook, and the post has gone viral. It has inspired many South Africans to plant cabbages for Djo “Cabbage Bandit” BaNkuna.
“Believe it or not. Miracles happen.
On Thursday (09/08/2021) at 9 am, 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 the permission to plant vegetables outside or replace my veggies with grass/roses or nothing. I did not argue. Today (10/08/2021) at 9:30 am, 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 14/09/2021, 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 on Tuesday.”
Tomorrow, Tuesday, the 14th of September 2021, is jail day. Thankfully, a lawyer has stepped forward to offer Djo his services pro-bono. Hundreds of South Africans are also planting a cabbage or two in solidarity with Djo.
The saddest part of all is the front lawn crops are there to sustain people passing by. Whatever is left over when harvest time comes is donated to organisations in need.
“In March 2021, I donated 35 massive pumpkins and 145KG sweet potato from here. All these without any problem, threats or complaints from anyone.”
So if you are looking to make a stand, plant a cabbage. If anything, you will have something to give someone in need.