News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
26 Sep 2017
6:10 am

Fair and square: a city’s remake

Virginia Keppler

The Lalela project is being built in Pretoria’s historical centre to attract all races.

Visitors to Church Square in Pretoria take photographs of the vandalised Paul Kruger statue, 6 April 2015. The statue was vandalised on Sunday night. Initially the EFF claimed responsibility for the act, but have sinced denied any involvement. They have indicated they are happy it happened. Picture: Michel Bega

Construction work on Church Square has hit the R12 million mark to date, but the City of Tshwane has stayed mum on what the final cost of the so-called Lalela project would come to on completion.

City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo could not put a figure to the sum but indicated that the city expected the construction, which started in January, to be completed by the end of October.

The square is currently a picture of dust – with the statue of Paul Kruger the only recognisable feature.

Fenced off to protect it from vandalism, the statue finds itself covered in dust while workers turn the square into a “monument for freedom of speech”.

The Lalela [isiZulu word meaning “listen”] Freedom of Expression Monument will host an openair entertainment hub. It is hoped that the newly transformed square would contribute to a feeling of a more inclusive cross-cultural community.

The open-air entertainment area will aim at attracting international tourists as well as locals.

The Freedom of Expression monument will feature Nelson Mandela’s footprints and a rock excavated from the limestone quarry on Robben Island.

These exhibits will hopefully encourage visiting youth to engage with the country’s history.

Mashigo said that upon completion of the renovations a section of Paul Kruger Street, which runs along the inner parameters of Church Square, would no longer be accessible to motorists.

“This road will only be designated for use by A Re Yeng [city] buses and emergency vehicles, leaving the the broad walkways for pedestrians.

“All parking bays at Church Square will be removed and drivers will use parking decks around the Square,” Mashigo said.

A limited number of bays will remain on the peripheral areas of the historical square and this would include on Mutual Street and Parliament Street.

The Lalela project was decided on about four years ago under the ANC but it is the current DA-led administration which gave the green light for work to start. –