Bad night’s sleep

Ac­com­mo­da­tion is­sues dampen youth spirits

Talk of the Town - - Front Page - ROB KNOWLES

AC­CORD­ING to event or­gan­is­ers, the Na­tional Agri­cul­tural Youth Show which took place at the Bathurst Show­grounds re­cently was a huge suc­cess, and pos­si­bly the best show in re­cent years – but prob­lems with ac­com­mo­da­tion cast a dark shadow over the trip for some of the vis­i­tors.

The show, a pres­ti­gious event for Bathurst to have landed, saw about 450 com­peti­tors, their par­ents, coaches and teach­ers flock to the Eastern Cape, fill­ing guest houses, lodges and ho­tels around the area.

Yet prob­lems at Chap­pys Cush­ion Game Lodge and Well­ness Spa in Martin­dale, be­tween Bathurst and Gra­ham­stown, saw sev­eral vis­i­tors seek­ing al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“The ser­vice we re­ceived at Chap­pys Cush­ion was ter­ri­ble,” said Chris Breyten­bach from Ma­galies­burg in Gaut­eng.

“We ar­rived later than some and were told that there were only two dor­mi­to­ries, and that all girls would be in one and all boys in the other. With 76 kids, plus par­ents and friends, this was to­tally in­ad­e­quate.”

Breyten­bach spoke of the con­di­tion of the dor­mi­to­ries, where beds were pushed so close to­gether that the youths had to climb up and over them to get out of the room.

“There was no space for lug­gage, and some of the elec­tri­cal sock­ets had wires pro­trud­ing from them.”

An­nelien van Wyk from the Western Cape spoke of how she had ar­rived at the lodge with the largest con­tin­gent, 88 peo­ple, and how they were all put into one room.

“There were only 40 beds, and the oth­ers needed to sleep on mat­tresses on the floor,” she said, “One of the men had a tent which was erected in the bath­room, where men, women and chil­dren had to shower.”

Some of the dis­grun­tled vis­i­tors chose to move out and find al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion at Medolino Car­a­van Park and Green Foun­tain Farm among other places, and thanked the own­ers of these es­tab­lish­ments for their as­sis­tance in putting them up at short no­tice. Yet there was still the mat­ter of the up­front pay­ment they made.

“At R1 040 per head (R346.67 per night), we couldn’t re­ally af­ford to spend any more money. We need to re­cover the money we had al­ready spent,” said Van Wyk.

After the show, sev­eral of the vis­i­tors went to the Bathurst po­lice sta­tion and po­lice spokes­woman Cap­tain Mali Goven­der con­firmed they had laid a charge of fraud against the owner of Chap­pys Cush­ion.

One of the ma­jor com­plaints was that when they ar­rived, there was no one to check them in or to an­swer any of their ques­tions.

In re­sponse to these al­le­ga­tions, Steven Chiro, a trustee of Chap­pys Cush­ion, was adamant he had com­plied with the con­di­tions of his agree­ment with the na­tional event or­gan­is­ers. Con­tracts for ac­com­mo­da­tion were signed with the in­di­vid­ual prov­inces.

“Our agree­ment was to ac­com­mo­date these groups on a shar­ing ba­sis, as in all girls and ed­u­ca­tors shar­ing one dor­mi­tory, and the same with the boys and their ed­u­ca­tors. It was also fur­ther agreed that all adults would share in the main lodge build­ing, ladies to­gether and males to­gether,” he wrote.

“Del­e­gates from dif­fer­ent prov­inces came and checked the place out months in ad­vance and were happy. It was also agreed that some of the kids would sleep on mat­tresses; the short­fall was about 60. It was fur­ther agreed del­e­gates would bring their own bed­ding.

“When these groups started ar­riv­ing, they re­fused to share, stat­ing they had prob­lems be­tween each other [and that] at the last event, the kids stole each other’s be­long­ings.

“When they were re­minded about the shar­ing ar­range­ment and that we do not have enough dorms to put them sep­a­rately, they started abus­ing staff with racial ut­ter­ances and go­ing as far as as­sault­ing the staff, at which time we had to call the po­lice and Sky Alarms armed re­sponse.

Goven­der said no charge of as­sault had been laid by Chiro.

NO ROOM: Par­tic­i­pants in the re­cent Na­tional Agri­cul­tural Youth Show who stayed at Chap­pys Cush­ion out­side Bathurst were ap­palled at the con­di­tions they en­coun­tered there. Boys from all com­pet­ing prov­inces had to share a sin­gle dor­mi­tory. Those with­out beds slept on mat­tresses scat­tered around the floor

TEM­PO­RARY HOME: One of the guests at Chap­pys Cush­ion erected a tent in the bath­room ad­ja­cent to the show­ers in or­der to get a good night’s rest

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