Bad night’s sleep
Accommodation issues dampen youth spirits
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