Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
7 Dec 2018
9:35 am

We need to talk about our destructive tendencies

Sipho Mabena

The vandalism of Zithobeni stadium is not an isolated occurrence as vandals and thieves run amok, destroying public infrastructure as we watch helplessly.

A view on the inside of the dilapidated Zithobeni Stadium in Bronkhorstspruit, 4 December 2018. Picture: Jacques Nelles

We appear to be a sick and destructive nation that puts no value in public facilities, but one thing is certain: our public facilities, especially in townships, are fast being reduced to heaps of rubbish and we are all to blame and should be ashamed of ourselves.

My heart sank as I toured the destroyed Zithobeni stadium, a public facility near Brokhorstpruit in Gauteng, on which R44.3 million of taxpayers’ money was spent.

When I heard about the sorry state of the facility on the phone, I did not anticipate the eyesore I was about to be confronted with.

I could not believe the heap of rubble that this newly-built facility had been reduced to. It remains inexplicable why the Tshwane municipality would spend so much money on constructing the stadium, only to abandon it and leave it to the mercy of thieves and vandals to strip it bare.

As I made my way into the stadium, a few spectators dotted the grandstands, watching a soccer practice on the soccer pitch, with its once lush lawns fast making way to dusty, bare ground.

After the stadium was completed in April last year and the construction company left the site, the Tshwane metro bizarrely withdrew security at the facility.

hieves and vandals wasted no time in moving in, ravaging the multimillion-rand facility in just over a year.

Security will be reinstated, the metro proclaimed after The Citizen asked questions about the abandoned facility, but this is of little comfort and a case of too little, too late as almost everything of value has been stripped or destroyed.

With no explanation for forsaking the facility, the municipality seems to rest on the “likelihood” that insurance would cover the costs of the damage.

I can bet the last cent of my newspaperman’s salary that the authorities did not know or even care about the ensuing destruction, as confirmed by the metro that it was not even aware of the extent of the damage.

My probing of the matter revealed that there was shabby planning of the construction, despite buckets of money having been spent on professional fees.

As a result, the facility was never handed over to the community on completion as there were outstanding issues with town planning.

But the vandalism of Zithobeni stadium is not an isolated occurrence as vandals and thieves run amok, destroying public infrastructure as we watch helplessly.

Street signs are ripped from the ground and their poles used for washing lines or for fencing, lampposts are pulled to the ground and stripped of their cables and the lights sold to tavern and spaza shop owners.

Bridge barriers have long gone, manhole covers are sold for scrap and electricity cables dug out of the ground, destroying electricity infrastructure.

The dead are not spared the onslaught, with cemeteries unashamedly stripped of their steel perimeter fencing.

We are a nation in need of serious introspection on the value of public property that we actually pay for and need to protect.

We are a nation in need of serious dialogue on our sick and destructive tendencies of reducing our facilities to heaps of rubbish.

Sipho Mabena.

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