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Concern that lack of community pool adding to increase in dam drownings
First it was a problem with the quality of water and bodies of dead people found in the pool.
For almost two years, the only public swimming pool in Mthatha has been non-functional, contributing to the dire lack of recreational facilities in the greater King Sabata Dalindyebo municipal area.
The Mthatha Swimming Bath was closed due to leaking pipes and broken filter tanks and almost two years later, the pool is yet to be reopened.
A spike in dam drownings could be seen as a direct result of the pool’s closure as children resort to swimming in unsafe dams.
Mthatha resident Thobeka Sodlayiya said the pool’s closure was frustrating.
“Our children used to frequently swim in this facility.
“We were sure that our children were safe there. It was just closed unceremoniously and there was no notice.
“We were not told that it was under renovation and when it will be re-opened.
“This is contributing immensely to the problems of a lack of recreational facilities in this town,” said Sodlayiya.
Athenkosi Maqaqa, 17, said he used to to visit the Mthatha Swimming Bath for picnics with his parents or to swim with friends.
“But for the last three years, I have not been there. First it was a problem with the quality of water and the bodies of dead people found in the pool.
“Also, the facility was being frequented by criminals and drug smugglers. It became unsafe, with no lifeguards and also no security personnel,” said Athenkosi.
O R Tambo Athletics Federation chairman Fefelenkosi Mhlauli said the pool’s closure had hit them hard as they had to hire private pools for training.
“We have little resources in O R Tambo. If the pool was functional it would make our lives easier and we would negotiate with the municipality in terms of funds so our athletes can train,” said Mhlauli.
Workers said the two-year closure was due to the pool being renovated.
“The pipes were very old. Fixing of the pipes started last year in November and now they have been fixed,” said worker Yongama Mbityi, adding that there had been a number of break-ins at the facility over the past two years.
“At present there are no guards here and we have moved the chemicals to a safe place. In the previous years, we would find corpses early in the morning floating in the pool.
“Another challenge was of people who came to the pool drunk and those who sneaked alcohol in.
“But now the perimeter security fence has been fixed and we are going to be stricter this year.
“Our wish is for more workers, especially lifeguards, to be deployed here.”
Although the workers said the facility would be opened in September, KSD spokesman Sonwabo Mampoza would only say that it would reopen “during the summer season”.
He said, however, the municipality had set aside more than R500,000 for the renovation of the pool, which included fixing a purifier tank at a cost of R200,000 and installing a control box for R97,000, among other things.
Mampoza said due to vandalism at the facility, municipal police would patrol the vicinity.
BROKEN DOWN: The Mthatha Swimming Bath has been non-operational for more than two years due to broken pipes and purification tanks that are not working.