Thanks for nothing, Chiefs

2011-11-12 18:54

“Give us back our stadium!”

This is the desperate plea by top athletes, including Olympic-medal-winner Hezekiel Sepeng, to football supremos Kaizer Chiefs.

The athletes want the Phefeni Glamour Boys to return the once world-renowned Bob van Renen Athletics Stadium in Krugersdorp to the West Rand community, which has been without a proper track-and-field facility for more than five years.

The stadium was supposed to be rebuilt into a new multimillion-rand football home for the Amakhosi.

But since the Mogale City municipality, Chiefs, property development company Lefika Emerging Equity and the Gauteng provincial government entered into a 99-year lease agreement in 2003, the stadium has been left to fall apart and no construction has started.

Sepeng said on Thursday that he was “very, very sad that a stadium mainly for athletics was taken away by soccer and left to go to ruin”.

He used to train at the stadium at the height of his career and said “the West Rand has always delivered some of the best athletes in the country and, because of the altitude, the stadium was one of the best training fields in the world”.

“Whoever decided the stadium must go didn’t do it in the name of sport, but in the name of money.

“This would not have happened if the community were consulted. It is a political matter you know, a tender here, a tender there,” said Sepeng.

Initial construction work was supposed to have started in 2006 to be completed by 2008, but the developer Lefika – partly owned by Chiefs’ manager Bobby Motaung – has blamed the economic recession, fundraising challenges and the Fifa World Cup for the delay. Lefika is also embroiled in the Mbombela Stadium debacle in Nelspruit.

Kobie Jooste from the “Save the Bob van Renen Stadium” pressure group blames the Mogale City municipality for neglecting to include a cancellation clause for non-compliance in its contract with Lefika.

Jooste said: “We want to know why Mogale is not taking the stadium back if Lefika is not complying with the contract.”

In response to questions from City Press, Mogale City issued a statement saying the municipality has “learned a lesson from this episode”.

It intimated that it had no escape clause in its contract with Lefika, but said in future it will “fully utilise escape clauses in our agreements with other parties”.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane on Friday said she had stepped in and is facilitating discussions through sport MEC Lebogang Maile between Mogale City and Lefika.

Mokonyane, who was born in Kagiso, said a new government flagship project was on the cards in the West Rand for all Gauteng athletes.

Mokonyane said Lefika has accepted the sport department’s proposal to “go beyond refurbishing the?.?.?.?stadium to building a sports village which will accommodate all Olympic sporting codes”.

She also said there is “no need” to assist Mogale City to annul the contract with Lefika, because discussions on the sports village are in the final phase.

Chiefs, Motaung and Lefika refused to comment on why they haven’t developed the stadium in five years.
And Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula told Parliament last year he will investigate the Amakhosi Stadium matter.

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