Residents want clinic and sport facilities, not a Sai spiritual centre

2015-09-22 12:07
Panorama Gardens residents protesting on Naven Boulevard yesterday.

Panorama Gardens residents protesting on Naven Boulevard yesterday. (Amil Umraw )

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PANORAMA Gardens residents have said a proposed “Hindu Church” is not welcome in their suburb.

Residents said the religious facility is unnecessary in the predominantly Zulu-speaking area and other facilities like sports and recreational activities should take priority.

The residents, who took to the streets yesterday morning, have said that a proposed “Sai Centre” to be built in the neighbourhood is not welcome.

However, developer Dev Chetty said that an industrial complex was to be built on the site, on the corner of ­Birmingham Road and Naven ­Boulevard, with a spiritual centre to be incorporated as an addition.

There would be a 40 000m² ­commercial component, 32 business sites of 2 500m² each, and a 2 500m² ­religious site.

Chetty said there had been consultation with the community during the environmental impact assessment process, and there had been no ­objection to the development then.

He suspected the objection and ­protests were being driven by people currently living on the land.

Chetty said the religious centre would be a non-denominational ­facility run by the Sathya Sai ­organisation. It would offer free ­medical care, soup kitchens and facilities for the youth, all of which would benefit the local community. The mob, made up mostly of women, took bricks to be used for the centre’s boundary wall and scattered them across Naven Boulevard, along with large logs and sticks, which they then set alight.

Members of the Public Order ­Policing unit, Mountain Rise police and traffic officers arrived at the scene around 5 am to find the group dancing and singing on the road.

As traffic started to build, motorists were denied entry to the residential area, with school-goers from Panorama Primary School made to walk about a kilometre from their taxis, which dropped them off on Birmingham Road.

A community leader greeted the rowdy group after 7 am, negotiating with the angry residents before they were asked to disperse.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said one of their grievances is that vacant land in the area was sold without consulting the community.

“We do not have any facilities for the youth or any that create employment opportunities. There are no clinics or sports facilities and our youngsters end up on the street corners, smoking.

“There is no space here for a Hindu church,” the resident said.

Besides the religious organisation, residents said they paid “far too much” for rates, with bills of between R2 500 to R3 000 per month

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest

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