Neglect costs millions

2013-12-02 00:00

AN incomplete multimillion-rand multi­purpose centre will in all likelihood have the Msunduzi Municipality raiding the pockets of ratepayers for close to R5 million needed to salvage it after the centre was left at the mercy of vagrants and thieves.

The R9 million Moses Mabhida Multipurpose Centre in Edendale, built in 2006, was never completed as the contractor abandoned work in 2010. The municipality will now need to spend another R5 million to restore the centre to a habitable state.

The Mabhida family responded with sadness to news of the neglected building, saying it dishonours their father’s name. The centre was the first structure named in Mabhida’s honour.

Two years ago, The Witness exposed the neglected and vandalised state of the unused centre. The municipality at the time undertook to restore and guard it. In 2011, the municipality claimed the contractor left the site of his own accord and the legal division was looking at a breach of contract. No new contractor has been appointed since.

The double-storey state-of-the-art red-brick building was part of a project to uplift the previously disadvantaged Greater Edendale area.

The centre has been stripped of its doors, air-conditioning units have been ripped out and parts of the ceiling, electricity cables and light fittings and tiles have been stolen.

Thuthukile Mabhida-Pooe, the youngest child of Mabhida, was shocked at the news.

“I was under the impression that it was either finished years ago or was never built at all. No one updated the family about it. The last time I visited the place, was for the sod-turning ceremony while my mother [Smangele Linah] was still alive.

“This was the first building to be named after my father in the city, before the road and stadium in Durban, and even the Premier’s Office,” said Mabhida-Pooe.

“We want to see it completed because it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money if the state-of-the-art building is not completed,” she said.

Previously, the municipality claimed they would assign 24-hour security to the centre.

However, The Witness visited the building several times, even going inside, and found no security staff anywhere. Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said council resolved that R5 million funding must be found to complete the building.

“A new contractor would have to be appointed for this purpose. The process has not started as funding has not been identified due to limited availability of financial resources. However, the matter of funding will receive attention in the new financial year,” said Zuma.

He said that since August 2010, there have been security guards stationed at the building. “The unfortunate delay in the completion of the centre is regretted,” said Zuma.

In 2011, he said the tender was advertised in 2005, with an initial contract value of R9 428 508, including contingencies and VAT. It was awarded to a joint venture between M. Construction and Lungi Construction. On June 27, 2006, the whole contract was awarded to M. Construction after Lungi Construction’s contract was terminated on a technicality.


MOSES Mabhida, a former SACP secretary-general, was born in Thornville near Pietermaritzburg in 1923.

He was a central participant in the development of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu) and was elected vice-president at its first congress in 1955. He also served as secretary of the ANC’s Pietermaritzburg branch in the mid-1950s, and had a close working relationship with Chief Albert Luthuli.

In the 1980s, Mabhida continued his work with political and logistical planning for MK, based at various times in Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. In 1985, Mabhida suffered a stroke, and after a year of illness, died of a heart attack in Maputo, and was buried there in March 1986. His body was exhumed and repatriated to South Africa in November 2006.

Mabhida and his wife, Smangele Linah Mabhida, had four children. Both girls, Nokuthula and Thuthukile, became teachers. One son, Mhlonipheni, died when he was just a day old, while Mpumelelo died in 1997.

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