Qokololo stadium’s fate ‘should be decided by the people’

2008-07-21 00:00

The historic Qokololo Stadium next to Edendale Hospital is set to be demolished to make way for a shopping centre.

The centre will house 120 stores, including a Shoprite Checkers. A spokesman for New Ground Investments, which submitted a proposal to the Msunduzi Municipality to build the R60 million shopping centre, said Edendale franchise business operators will also be included.

But Alfred “Qokololo” Hlophe, the man after whom the stadium is named, is unhappy with the plan.

He told The Witness that the stadium is historically significant to the people of Edendale.

Hlophe said he is sending a strongly worded letter to Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo outlining the importance of the stadium.

“I fought hard for the stadium to be built. I was sent from pillar to post by the then town planner who was serving under the apartheid government … I had to go through over 10 different offices fighting to get the stadium for the people of Edendale. I then met with the then minister of community development and explained my request to him.”

Hlophe said the stadium took 17 years to complete because the government attended to building “when it suited them”.

“This stadium has served the children of greater Edendale area for years and I was informed about its demolition from people who said they have read about it in the newspapers.

“I do not own the ground, the people of Edendale do. They have not been approached about this. If the municipality says people are happy with this, they should call an imbizo and they will hear people’s disapproval of this,” said Hlophe.

He said that for Wadley Stadium to be preferred for an upgrade is “sabotage” and disregard for the people of Edendale.

“If the defeat and the demolition proceed, I hope that the mall will be made up of local businessmen and -women, not people from outside who will get richer on the backs of the locals.”

Executive member of the Edendale Landowners’ Association, Hitler Mbambo, said he is not aware of the demolition. He said the geological survey that was conducted indicated it would be impossible to build a mall there.

Ward councillor Pat Jaca said he has spoken to the people of Edendale and they want the mall. He said all that is left is for the council’s Executive Committee (Exco) and the full council to give the go ahead.

“The stadium is not important compared to the livelihood of the people. No one eats because of playing soccer in the stadium, whereas the mall will provide job opportunities and benefit the people of Edendale,” he said.

Acting SEM for economic development and growth, Skhumbuzo Mpanza, said council intends to allow a mall to be built in Edendale, but the process has not started.

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