Dreams with callous disregard
sic investigation into the project and Mgunculu said he had indicated his willingness to work with the investigative team.
Despite the Glenmore community’s sustained two-year-long campaign to get answers, the municipality appears to be indifferent to their concerns and was continuing to be billed by contractors on the project as late as August last year.
The municipality refused to answer specific questions sent by the Mail & Guardian, including why it had refused to engage substantively with the community on the refurbishment and subsequent rectification process, and allegations by Mgunculu Trading that the fault lay with the municipality for not maintaining the grounds.
Municipal spokesperson Ncumisa Cakwe said the municipality would respond once its investigation was complete. (see sidebar “KwaDukuza mayor plays dumb”).
The minutes of the special council meeting held in 2015 — when the major decisions on the development were made — also noted that the developer “has committed to bear the cost of constructing new and better facilities for all the affected sporting codes”.
Shipping containers now sit on the remains of the swimming pool and the tennis and netball courts. No new courts have been built by Double Ring Trading 7. The company has not built a new cricket oval. Instead, it is refurbishing the Gledhow Cricket Oval on the other side of the town. Likewise there are plans to upgrade the existing swimming pool and sports fields of the formerly all-white Stanger High School — also across town.
These facilities may not be accessible to KwaDukuza’s residents either, because the school’s governing body chairperson, Simon Nyawo, has written to the municipality stating that parents are “sceptical of the disturbances” to the “day-to-day running of the school” caused by residents using the facilities. The school’s governing body has requested “opt-out clauses” in any agreement with the municipality about the use of the grounds.
Reddy has also brought a R28million lawsuit (R10-million for defamation and R18-million for an escalation of costs in delaying the project) against the CCG, a group of mostly retired teachers, former sports administrators and a few business people.
In responding to questions, Brian Mpona, Reddy’s chief of staff, provided evidence of existing sports facilities which had been, or were in the process of being, upgraded.
No evidence of the “new” sports facilities Reddy had pledged to build (noted in a 2015 council meeting) was provided.
At the time of going to press Mpona had not responded to follow-up questions regarding whether Reddy still intended to build new facilities — and where these would be located.
Mpona confirmed they were “in dialogue with the CCG on various issues including the litigation”. Last month, mayor Ricardo Mthembu called an urgent meeting between the CCG and Reddy’s Double Ring Trading 7 to “resolve” the matter.
According to the CCG, it has been trying to nail down a meeting with Mthembu for more than two years.
Academic and political analyst Steven Friedman said the municipality’s predilection for opaqueness was symptomatic of local governments around the country.
“The sad reality is citizens will mainly have recourse if they are in contact with public interest law organisations, the media and nongovernmental organisations. This is a problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, labourers are working on public holidays and weekends to complete the mall by the end of August — paving paradise, as Joni Mitchell observed, “to put up a parking lot”.
Travesty: A shopping mall is being built where the historic Stanger sports complex once served local residents. Photo: Madelene Cronjé