Who we are
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) is a merged entity as from January 2013, and is registered as a non-profit company under the South African Companies Act, No 71 of 2008 as amended. The merger is a result of the institutional review process of the City of Johannesburg.
JCPZ is mandated by the City of Johannesburg to manage the City's cemeteries, parks and designated public open spaces as well as to ensure that its environmental conservation function is carried out, which includes the maintenance of all street and park trees within the City's borders, the Zoo with the preservation and management of biodiversity through direct conservation action, education, research and recreation.
The organisation has a growing portfolio in excess of 20 000 ha of green open spaces and 3.2 million trees (public spaces). Currently, the Zoo has 326 species consisting of 2 096 specimens housed within 54 ha area. The collection consists of 20 Amphibia (Frogs), 5 Arachnida (Spiders), 128 Aves (Birds), 47 Reptilia (Reptiles), 25 Osteichthyes (Pisces- Fish) and 101 Mammalia (Mammals).
The company operated with an operational budget of R692.8million, a capital development budget of R102.2 million and a staff complement of 1 563 permanent employees.
What we do
The company provides the following products and services:
- Urban parks, recreation and leisure facilities;
- Johannesburg Zoo;
- Zoo Conservation and Research Farm;
- Cemeteries and crematoria;
- Botanical Services;
- Nature reserves, including bird sanctuaries, nature trails, dams and lakes;
- Environmental education;
- Biodiversity and Conservation Management;
- Eco-tourism products and services;
- Trees and arboriculture services.
VisionA Joburg that is environmentally sustainable and liveable.
To develop, maintain and conserve public open spaces, cemeteries and the Zoo for present and future generations.
The history of the zoo
In 1904, the land which the Johannesburg Zoo encompasses was donated to the people of the city of Johannesburg to be used for recreational use by the firm of the late Hermann Eckstein. Hermann Eckstein was involved in the development of the new mining town of Johannesburg. He had 3-million trees planted in an area which he christened Sachsenwald, now the suburb of Saxonwold.
Since then, the Johannesburg Zoo has developed and evolved over the years. Many facilities were built, for example the hospital in 1936.
Public perception of the zoo changed in the 1960's when visitors wanted to see animals in larger, more natural enclosures. This was the start of the zoo's long-term plans to grow and improve the facility for both the animals and the visitors. These changes saw the upgrading and creation of old and new enclosures, the development of education and environmental programmes, and the zoo becoming part of local and international breeding programmes.
Did you know?
The original animal collection consisted of one lion, one leopard, one giraffe, two Sable antelope bulls, one baboon, one genet, one pair of Rhesus monkeys, one pair of porcupines and one Golden eagle.
Here are some more fun facts:
- The first ‘official’ enclosure was built by the Town Council to house two young lions. Only the lions and leopard were in the public area at this stage.
- In 1910 the Bandstand was built to host the popular brass band music of the day.
- Between 1913 and 1915 the stone elephant and rhino house was built. Also at this time, one Asian elephant and one Bactrian camel were purchased and trained for rides.
- In 1961 for the first time visitors over the age of 16 were charged to enter the zoo.
The history of Joburg’s cemeteries
The first cemetery in Johannesburg was laid out in 1886 on the corner of Bree and Harrison streets.
To walk the cemeteries of Johannesburg is to explore the city’s own history. The first cemetery in the city was on the corner of Bree and Harrison Streets, laid out in 1886 when gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand. This became overrun as the town grew briskly and land was acquired in Braamfontein for the Braamfontein Cemetery, which received its first burials in 1888. The bodies from the city cemetery were exhumed and removed to Braamfontein in the 1890s.
There were private farm cemeteries at several locations around the city - Alberts Farm, north-west of the city, Bezuidenhout Valley, east of the city, and Klipriviersberg, down south. Most of these are still in place.
In 1912, the Brixton Cemetery was opened, barely a kilometre west of the Braamfontein Cemetery. Both cemeteries reflect the city's history, with Randlords, miners, engineers, soldiers, geologists and mayors finding their final resting place in them.
At that time, mourners requested locations for different religions, and a Jewish section was established, which lies adjacent to the Muslim section. Just outside these sections were places for Chinese, blacks, military, firemen, policemen and many more religious divisions. Cemeteries were laid out in European fashion, with long rows of graves alongside straight roads, divided into even sections. The graves of soldiers who were buried in Braamfontein during the Anglo-Boer War period were laid out in lawn and ribbon flower beds, on the same pattern as the war cemeteries in Europe.
In 1918, a wood-burning crematorium was built in the Brixton Cemetery, on land organised by Mahatma Gandhi on behalf of the Hindu community. It is now a national monument. In 1956, a gas-fired crematorium was built alongside the old crematorium and its chapel.
More recently, after a year-long search, Enoch Sontonga's grave was located at Braamfontein Cemetery, and the man who wrote South Africa's national anthem, Nkosi Sikeleli, is remembered with an impressive granite cube.
The Kliprivierberg Cemetery, south of the city, contains the victims of one of many concentration camps set up during the Anglo Boer War. The cemetery contains 700 graves. In all, 5 000 men, women and children were interned in a camp at the Turffontein Race Course.
In many ways, the development of cemeteries echoes Johannesburg’s own apartheid history. Cemeteries came to be developed along racial lines, with Asian and coloured cemeteries in Newclare, Brixton and Lenasia, and so-called “native” cemeteries in Alexandra and Soweto. In 1920 the Nancefield Cemetery in Soweto opened, followed by the Doornkop Cemetery in the 1930s.
The first burial in Westpark Cemetery took place on 10 February 1942, and during that year there were 6 603 burials in the four cemeteries under the Park Department’s control.
In 1972, the 172-hectare Avalon Cemetery opened in Soweto. This cemetery holds the remains of many heroes of the struggle against apartheid, including Joe Slovo, the general secretary of South African Communist Party and former chief-of-staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, and women's leaders Lilian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph.
Then, finally, 24 years later, Waterval Cemetery in Midrand opened, adding space for 440 000 burials. A year later, Diepsloot Memorial Park opened. Built along modern trends and with an Afrocentric model, the park received a silver award in the whole city environmental management category at the prestigious Liveable Community (LivCom) Awards, organised by the United Nations, in London in November 2007.
History of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden
Despite intermittent pleas dating from the 1920s, for about 50 years Johannesburg remained one of the few important cities in the world without a botanical garden.
Then, on 19 November 1968, a report by the director of the parks and recreation department was submitted to the management committee of the Johannesburg city council on the feasibility of establishing of a botanical garden. In response, the management committee resolved that "a botanic garden be established at Jan van Riebeeck Park and that the parks and recreation department continue with the development of a botanic garden as indicated in the report".
The total area of land for development was 81 hectares; Joburg got its garden, even though the 19th century enthusiasm for botanical gardens had waned.
The garden's master plan gives a broad outline of the botanical layout. In all, 42 families of plants are incorporated into the design based on suitable sites for the majority of species within the families. The families, comprising South African and exotic species of trees, are the framework around which shrubs and perennials are added to complete both the aesthetic and botanical picture.
Ten-year planting plans have been drawn up for two large sections of the garden and work on the development of these areas continues on a yearly basis. Natural spaces have been retained in the garden, including swamps that are part of the perennial stream which runs through the garden, and natural areas of climax grass and forbs.
By 2009, apart from the area east of the southern lakes which has been left under natural veld grass and bog, and the Rose Garden, the whole area was contoured to existing levels, grassed with kikuyu and half of the pathways paved. The pathways are so designed that all parts of the garden can be visited without the need to backtrack. Visitors are also able to take shorter or longer routes. A map, on which the various walks and all the major attractions in the garden are shown, is available from the offices in the garden.
At present, the plants in the Rose Garden, the Herb Garden and the Hedge Garden demonstration section are labelled. Unfortunately, like all botanical gardens worldwide, labels at the Johannesburg garden are vandalised.
In addition, there are three parking areas. The main one has a unique design, in that the whole area was excavated and the soil was used to create a berm so that it is concealed from view from within and outside the garden. The approach road to the car park runs along the shore of Emmarentia Dam, enabling a peaceful view of the dam even before entering the garden.
An extensive water reticulations system has been installed, serviced by a reservoir holding 1 250 000 litres of water. Two productive boreholes were sunk, as well as a submersible pump in one of the southern dams, which provide the water for the reservoir.
With the completion of the basic engineering operations, extensive planting was undertaken. A Podocarpus forest – of evergreen trees and shrubs – with representatives from around the world is growing apace. It is sheltered by pine nurse trees at present, but these will eventually be removed. There is a large collection of palms along the western boundary of the garden next to the nursery in Thomas Bowler Road.
Further south along the same road is an interesting collection of acacias, the South African ones of which were donated by Denzil Carr, an acknowledged expert in the South African representatives of this genus. To date, over 56 000 trees have been planted, a good proportion of which serve as nurse trees protecting the more desirable plants from wind, frost, the baking sun and designations.
Its trees include ones that have been grown from seed through the garden's global exchange with other botanical institutions. Some 3 000 packets of seeds are exchanged each year, many of which are rare and endangered, thus perhaps being preserved from extinction, far from their native habitat.
The aim is to create and maintain a fundamental role as a regional centre of excellence in plant science and garden curatorship while providing facilities, knowledge and expertise necessary to ensure the conservation, appreciation, enjoyment and sustained use of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden, and so enhancing the quality of life for all.
History of Emmarentia Dam
The land on which the garden is situated was once part of the farm Braamfontein, which dated back to 1853. In 1886, a farmer called Louw Geldenhuys bought a portion of Braamfontein Farm and named it after Emmarentia, the woman he married in 1887.
At the end of the Anglo Boer War, in 1902, many landless farmers returned home, and Geldenhuys offered them employment to build the 7,5ha Emmarentia Dam. Great blocks of stone were brought down from the nearby Melville Koppies, which were then fitted together to construct the dam wall. It banks up water to the depth of 20 metres at the centre of the dam. The wall was built almost perpendicular and has been equal to any flood.
Those men who worked well on the dam wall were chosen to join a farm-sharing experiment Geldenhuys had initiated on his farm.
Emmarentia Dam is fed by the Westdene Spruit, the catchment of which stretches to the suburb of Westdene, to the south of the dam. In earlier times, a furrow from the stream beside the Parkview Golf Course also led water to the dam. Today this furrow no longer exists but the storm water drains from the surrounding roads also feed the dam.
The dam and an area of land to the west of it formed an endowment from Geldenhuys to the city council for park and garden purposes. In 1952, the area was named Jan van Riebeeck Park in celebration of the tri-centenary of Van Riebeeck's historic landing at the Cape. Then, in 1969, a resolution was passed for the building of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden on this land.
Custodians of Joburg's green heritage
Our Board of Directors
Thenjiwe Mjoli (Chairperson)
Mr Floyd Rikhotso
(Chief Financial Officer)
Independent Audit Committee Members
Our Executive Team
Mr Thanduxolo Mendrew
Mr Floyd Rikhotso
(Chief Financial Officer)
Mr Marks Sethaelo
(Executive Manager: Operations)
Mr Lombard Shirindzi
(Executive Manager: Environmental Conservation)
Ms Evelyn Motsatsing
(Executive Manager: Business Support)
Mr. Christopher Pholwane
(Executive Manager: Human Capital)
Ms Louise Gordon
(Executive Manager: Joburg Zoo)