Schools’ Cup accommodation project hangs in balance

2010-06-18 16:23

The Soweto Focus

Points (SFP),

a schools’ accommodation initiative aimed at World Cup visitors, has

stopped taking

bookings for fear that the provincial education department might obtain

an interdict against it.

This follows the

refusal by the department to endorse the project.

Channon Merricks,

managing director of SFP, started the project to accommodate an estimated 46 000

backpackers and budget travellers during this Soccer World Cup. About 2 300

visitors have been accommodated so far.

When Merricks made a

presentation to the City of Johannesburg regarding the provision of

emergency medical services related to his project, the city required him to

attach a letter from the education department confirming that the department had

agreed to endorse the project.

Boy Ngobeni,

provincial head of department, turned down SFP’s request.

Merricks said he got permission to use the schools from school governing bodies (SGBs) and

the education department based in the Johannesburg central district, which

manages schools in Soweto, Lenasia, Eldorado Park and suburbs in the south of


However, the department said it distanced

itself from the above decision as the person who signed the letter did not have

the authority to do so.

Charles Phahlane, the department’s spokesperson

said they wrote a memorandum to schools on March 16 discouraging them from

allowing the project “so that we limit any possible liability or damage to

school facilities”.

He added: “We also wanted school facilities to

be readily available for teaching and learning purposes immediately after the

World Cup.”

Phahlane claimed that Merricks never approached his department.

However, he said that they were not going to shut down the project – that would

be the city’s prerogative.

Meanwhile, SFP has consulted its lawyers.

“We have stopped taking in people for fear that the department

might interdict us, but we have consulted our lawyers to resolve the issue,”

said Merricks.

» On Friday, Phahlane claimed SFP had failed

to comply with the city’s health and safety by-laws. He has since denied saying this. When asked to comment, the Johannesburg Property Company, which

manages property for the city, said it was not aware of any transgressions of

by-laws by the SFP, but that it would investigate the matter.


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