Strandfontein residents help to restore field

Strandfontein resident Brent Bruyns helps to water the local sports field.

Strandfontein residents have taken on the restoration of a local sports field because they’re frustrated that the City of Cape Town has not prioritised the facility’s upkeep.

They recently collected 200m of domestic hose pipes and connections to water the dry, brown field, where people living on the streets had been temporarily housed in May last year.

The City of Cape Town had promised to restore the field after it spent millions on a temporary homeless shelter for six weeks during the national Covid-19 lockdown last year (“‘City not delivering on sports field promises’”, Plainsman, October 7 2020).

During a media briefing on the sports field on Tuesday November 16, Mario Oostendurp, chairman of Strandfontein Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, highlighted the lack of progress at the facility.

“Unfortunately what is happening on the ground versus emails and what the City has relayed, are worlds apart, hence the need for awareness by the Facility Management Committee (FMC) and its affiliated organisations,” he said.

Mr Oostendurp said the City had not maintained the field since the closure of the “concentration camp” 18 months ago.

“Had it not been for the ongoing work and money which the FMC and the affiliated clubs have invested, we would be sitting with a worse off field,” he said.

Gerard Kemp, secretary of the Strandfontein Sports Complex Municipal Facility Management Committee (MFMC), said they had been using their local resources to buy equipment and use their expertise to improve the state of the sports field.

“It is clear that dozens of emails and calls from various sectors have been ignored,” he said.

Mr Kemp said they would like to understand how the City prioritises the maintenance and development of the Strandfontein Sports Complex, in the light of public statements made by the former mayoral committee members for safety and security JP Smith; and for community services and health councillor Dr Zahid Badroodien (now Mayco member for water and waste.

“Between the date of the closing of the homeless camp and the present time, all we have by way of upgrades, in reality, is a partially completed irrigation installation, a block of prefabricated modular ablution building,” he said.

Mr Kemp said they were aware of a “master plan” and had engaged with City officials around the longer-term improvements.

They were, however, anticipating the requirements of soccer and rugby events.

“Our playing surfaces are in a shocking state,” he said.

“It was our expectation that, at the very least, the two football fields would have had its irrigation by the start of 2021 and especially in the light of social media posts in early 2021 of other already well-resourced facilities.

“Our community has been let down. The MFMC, with assistance from some community members, are doing their utmost to bring about some positivity by getting water onto the playing services in the interim,” said Mr Kemp.,

City spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo said the municipality’s Recreation and Parks Department confirmed that infrastructure projects had been completed at the sports grounds over the past financial year.

In addition, the department was in the tender process of upgrading the borehole or irrigation system.

“With reliable irrigation in place, major rehabilitation and the overseeding of fields can begin,” he said.

“Recreation and Parks can confirm that progress on the maintenance and development of the Strandfontein Sports Field has been prioritised and implemented over time.

“The department has identified the need for a master plan which will detail the future vision of the facility and prioritise projects including maintenance and infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Tyhalibongo confirmed that an internal process of gathering the required information had been started, and that the development of the master plan would require engagement with the community which will be undertaken in the coming months.

As part of this process, a draft due diligence report is being prepared and details some of the design considerations, including spatial, urban design, precinct concept plans and architectural guidelines.

Last year Huey Jacobs, chairman of the Strandfontein Facility Management Committee (FMC), said they had been told by the City that only four of the eight fields would be ready in March this year for the soccer season (“‘City not delivering on sports field promises’”, Plainsman, October 7).

He said that before the lockdown the field had been in a poor condition, but now it was even worse.

Strandfontein does not have a clubhouse, toilet, dressing rooms or shelter for spectators.

Mr Jacobs said the cricket fraternity was not being catered for as summer approaches.