The Citizen (KZN)

Let’s roll up our sleeves


A couple of years back the house across the road from mine was demolished. It was a beautiful old Dame, with pressed ceilings, Oregan pine floors and a real stoep – not a patio – with a polished red floor and a thick, low wall that acted as extra seating.

In its heyday, the house was a beacon in the community and the sole occupant, Oom Gey as we called him, took immense pride in his castle.

However, when Oom Gey moved to an old age home, maintenanc­e on the building stopped abruptly.

Cracks in the walls yawned wider with every change of season and the garden became somewhat of a jungle.

After Oom Gey’s passing, the old house also seemed to give up.

A new owner stepped in with great vigour and plans to develop the stand.

The municipal engineer declared the house unsafe and the Heritage Council gave permission to have the building demolished.

Well, the first to go was the roof. The corrugated iron sheets were removed in the blink of an eye and taken away to be deployed elsewhere.

Next came the roof trusses, window frames and ceiling.

Pipes and wiring were stripped from the shell.

Finally, a bulldozer levelled the brickwork.

The entire process lasted exactly two days.

Way back when the house was built, it would probably have taken at least four months to complete the constructi­on, but it was undone in just two days.

The new structure that was built took three months to complete. Quite a contrast to the couple of days it took to reduce the old Dame to a heap of rubble.

Fact is, it’s always much easier and faster to destroy than to create.

In South Africa, we have experience­d 30 years of destructio­n.

Some of the destructio­n has been very active, like railway lines and station buildings looted and destroyed.

But there has also been passive destructio­n due to non-maintenanc­e of assets.

When we start rebuilding our country after the May elections, we must all understand that the process will take very, very long.

In fact, we might not finish the task in our lifetime.

But the sooner we begin to rebuild, the better.

A daunting task awaits, but one I am looking extremely forward to.

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