Mystery grows over province’s R23.7m Lotto boxing arena
Boxing arena? Where? This was the response of Boxing SA (BSA) in the province to the news that the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) more than a year ago paid R23.7m to build a state-ofthe-art boxing facility in the Eastern Cape.
NLC spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mafela confirmed the commission had approved a grant in the 2017/18 financial year.
It was made to a company called Nunnovation Africa Foundation.
Mafela said the arena was in the Storms River area in the Koukamma municipality and it was near completion.
However, BSA Eastern Cape manager Phakamile Jacobs said while they longed for such a facility, he knew nothing about the province getting one and had never heard of Nunnovation.
“What you are telling me is news as we know nothing about a boxing arena that has been built in the province.
“We dream of having such a facility. We are constantly using municipality halls like the Orient Theatre.
“I can say there’s no such boxing arena that we know of as BSA in this province.”
Adding to the puzzle is the fact that the Storms River area does not feature on the boxing map, unlike areas like Mdantsane, Duncan Village and Port Elizabeth, which are known for producing some of the best boxers in the world.
BSA Eastern Province representative Nceba Dladla, whose jurisdiction covers the Koukamma municipality, said he had never handled a boxing event in Storms River.
“I did not even know that Storms River is under my jurisdiction,” he said.
“I am surprised now if you say there is a boxing arena there, and the question is, who does it serve?”
The Koukamma local municipality ward councillor in Storms River, Hester Pullen, said she was also not aware of a boxing arena in her area.
“There’s a hall that was built with the support of Lotto. But there’s no sign that it is a boxing arena, but maybe it’s a multipurpose centre,” she said.
The provincial department of sport, recreation arts & culture similarly pleaded ignorance.
General manager Bafundi Makhubalo said he had heard talk of the need for such an arena by the then sports minister Fikile Mbalula.
“I know for a fact that minister Mbalula mentioned the need for a boxing arena but I never heard if it was built,” he said.
Mafela confirmed the building of such a facility in Storms River but said it has not yet been occupied.
“The organisation [Nunnovation] was allocated the said amount in June of the 2017/18 financial year.
The boxing arena has not been occupied as yet. However, the structure is complete with roof and plastering and the contractor is now busy with fencing, to be followed by plumbing and electrification.”
Two years after its registration, Nunnovation, which is based in Centurion, Pretoria, received the multimillion-rand funding to build a boxing arena in the Eastern Cape.
The executive chair of Nunnovation, Khathu Mashau, said they had changed the venue an indoor sports centre, rather than a boxing arena.
“Engagements with the local municipality moved the project to not only focus on boxing, but consider other sporting codes. Thus it is now an indoor sports facility,” said Mashau.
He would not answer to whether BSA was aware of such a venue.
Asked how much they had received and spent for the hall, he referred the Dispatch to NLC.
There’ sa hall that was built with the support of Lotto. But there’s no sign that it is a boxing arena