‘Create jobs, not gamblers’

2015-06-18 09:29
Zaid Ismail Bayat holds up the petition to stop the bingo hall opening at the Brookside Mall.

Zaid Ismail Bayat holds up the petition to stop the bingo hall opening at the Brookside Mall. (Jonathan Burton)

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A PROPOSED gambling centre at the Brookside Mall is being opposed by some community members, who have rallied together to sign a petition, saying it will contribute to “unhealthy lifestyles”.

Almost 300 people have added their names to the list, which was handed to the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board recently.

And while the proposed bingo hall’s legitimacy is already being challenged in court by the provincial government along with more than 600 licences granted to bingo hall operators across the province, the lower CBD community is adamant that gambling, of any kind, will not happen in their backyard.

Among the organisations involved in opposing the establishment of the Galaxy Bingo gaming centre are the South African Muslim Network (Samnet), the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Jamiatul Ulama as well as schools in Brookside Mall’s surrounding area.

The petition was formed on the perception that the gaming centre is “not a healthy, social and economic development structure for Pietermaritzburg”.

Speaking as a member of Samnet and the Jamiatul Ulama, Mohamed Saeed said they believe the centre will contribute to “unhealthy lifestyles” and can foster addiction and crime.

“Gaming or gambling has a negative impact on families and its structures. Being so close to learning institutions, places of worship and residential areas, it would negatively impact on children and families,” Saeed said.

“It will destroy family and cultural values. The impact of gambling on families far outweighs job creation.”

Job creation should concentrate on creating skills, career opportunities and promote constructive human activities.

The petition, of which The Witness has a copy, states that the Brookside Mall is not an appropriate location for gaming and gambling as it is near residential areas and families with children frequent the mall.

“This proposal is highly inconsistent with our treasured family values for which we have all settled in the area in close proximity to the mall to raise our children or retire; and it will certainly jeopardise the health, safety and welfare of our families,” Saeed said.

Deputy chairperson of the People’s Forum Against Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) Brandon Pillay said there is no way a licence will be granted for a gambling facility at Brookside Mall before court processes are completed. Pillay was referring to a bid by Premier Senzo Mchunu and the MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott, to try to overturn 650 licences granted to bingo hall operators earlier this year, ironically by Mchunu’s government, a decision they are now back-tracking on after a public outcry.

“We will support these residents 100%. The concern is that there is a proliferation of gambling in the province. If we allow these bingo centres in our malls, any man on the street can lose everything which will cause great decay in our society,” Pillay said.

KZN Treasury spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa was approached for comment and said he would only be able to reply today

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  gambling

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