Students who are regular Botanical Gardens visitors have no reason to panic as the plan to implement entrance fees will not affect them. According to the Botanical Gardens’ Admin and Finance Officer, Viola Calitz, SU students and staff members will be exempted from paying the fee.
Friends of the Botanical Garden will also not be required to pay.
Other visitors will be required to pay a small fee of R10. If the visitor makes a purchase at the Garden’s gift shop or if they enjoy a meal or a drink at Katjiepiering Restaurant, R5 will be returned to them.
SU-Alumni and friends of students from other universities, however, should not be tempted to try cheat the new system. Flashing another student’s card or an old deactivated card will not suffice as a card-swiping system will be put into place.
According to Martin Smit, the curator of the Botanical Garden, they are working with University’s IT to set the system up. Students will have to swipe their cards to gain access to the Botanical Garden.
“When somebody scans their card it will run a query on the campus server to see if you are actually a registered student”, says Smit. The system is meant to be implemented this week.
The decision to implement an entrance fee comes after a number of thefts within the Gardens. Calitz says: “We’ve had thefts of cellphones, and wallets have gone missing. So the fees are there mainly for safety reasons.”
It seems plants are also popular souvenirs and are being carried out through the gates of the garden at increasing rates. “You won’t believe it, but sometimes it’s the people who know their plants [who pick them off the racks]”, says Calitz.
As of 2016, visitors to the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa have had to sign in by the entrance. This was the first step taken to monitor movement in and out of the Garden. – Andrea Kohrs