Komani’s unusable R20-million “sport facility”

“What we got was nothing compared to what we were promised,” says resident

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Opened in 2021, the Lesseyton Sport Facility outside Komani, Eastern Cape, has only once been used - for an ANC function. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

The R20-million Lesseyton Sport Facility 20km outside Komani, Eastern Cape, was to have a grassed football and rugby pitch with floodlights, an athletic track and a rubberised netball court. It was meant to have ablution facilities and change rooms, a paved parking lot with a guard house, and a brick boundary wall. Borehole drilling and water reticulation were also in the tender budget.

Yet, more than two years after it was officially opened, not a single sporting event has taken place at the stadium, according to residents, and the facility is neglected.

Construction started in 2018 when the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality awarded the tender to Thalami Construction.

There was an outcry on social media about the poor quality of the facility and its cost when it was officially opened in October 2021.

Last week we visited the facility in Ndlovukazi location. The guard at the gate refused us entry. We could see the field was covered in weeds and long grass. There was no sign of a netball court or a paved parking lot. The goalposts were broken. There were no floodlights erected and no power.

Residents could recall only one event to date – an ANC function.

“What we got was nothing compared to what we were promised,” said resident Thanduxolo Govu. “It was built for ANC comrades to have events … Our soccer teams are supposed to practice here but the field is not accessible.”

Municipal spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said how often the facility was used was up to the community.

But ward councillor Ntomboxolo Solani said soccer players complained the field was so uneven they risked injury. She said she expects the municipality to level the field in time for tournaments over the coming Easter weekend.

Chris Hani Sport Council secretary Mabuti Mapeyi said there have never been any soccer activities at the facility.

Phoenix Birds soccer club coach Ringo Klaas said nothing has changed, they continue to play in Komani not in Lesseyton.

A report by the Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in October 2021 noted that Sky High Consulting Engineers were paid R2.4-million, and Thalami Civils about R17-million for the construction. The project got off to a false start because the Environmental Impact Assessment was not completed when Thalami started work. The initial contract was therefore cancelled, after R3.4-million was paid to Sky High and Thalami. A second contract was then entered into.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation then investigated. Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela said it was at an advanced stage and the director of public prosecutions had already allocated an advocate.

TOPICS:  Local government Sport

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