Daily Dispatch

Thoroughbr­ed racing will impoverish Berlin

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NORMAN Sangotsha has been involved in bushracing for years and for as many years has been angling to get a racetrack built somewhere in the Bhisho/berlin area.

The informal racing “industry” in this area has been fragmented for a very long time with distinct groups going up against each other. At these races there are very few thoroughbr­eds. Most of the animals are, what we refer to as “bush ponies”.

The majority of these animals are ridden by children. The thoroughbr­eds that do attend have been bought off the tracks mainly in Port Elizabeth because they don’t make the grade there. I have witnessed children being used as jockeys on these animals as well but they cannot handle the highspirit­ed and strong animals and have been thrown and broken shoulders and have had other injuries. The kids are used to make the weight that the animal carries, lighter.

Usually these horses are “doped” to make them “perform”. I have seen everything from XXX mints to dagga being tied to their bits to make them run faster. There is never a vet present at these informal meetings.

Thoroughbr­ed racing is an extremely expensive hobby or sport and to state that the rural community of Berlin would benefit is a bare-faced lie. A few jobs may be created yes, but it will be unskilled labour. The only people who will benefit are the thoroughbr­ed owners and the bookies.

The poor will get poorer because they will bet their wages in an attempt to win money. There is already so much hardship amongst the poor. Can we really afford to put more temptation into people’s way at the expense of their families who are ultimately the ones who will suffer?

I cannot see how a small community like Berlin is going to sustain the kind of multi-billionran­d developmen­t that the article talks about. It’s a case of simple economics. With a multibilli­on-rand centre comes very high rentals for stores. Which store can sustain paying high rentals when the community it serves is so small? People from East London certainly won’t drive through to support it when they have so many malls to choose from in East London.

Building yet another track also makes no sense when many of the horse-racing tracks in South Africa are either closing or are suffering huge financial losses.

Create real, sustainabl­e jobs for the residents of Berlin and the surroundin­g area – giving people dignity – not another social evil which will impoverish the community even more at the expense of a few. — Annette Rademeyer, King William’s Town.

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