Structural investigation needed for pavilion

The extent of the remedial work necessary at the Strandfontein Pavilion will need to be determined.

The City of Cape Town said a structural investigation is needed to ascertain the extent of the necessary remedial work or demolition at Strandfontein Pavilion.

The current state of the pavilion and its possible future upgrade was one of the items on the agenda of the Ward 43 (Strandfontein and parts of Philippi) committee meeting on Wednesday February 27.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said only a portion of the building, the tower, has been declared unsafe for occupation.

This portion has been cordoned off and access have been restricted. It does not extend to the entire pavilion structure.

Mr Badroodien told the Plainsman a structural investigation is needed to ascertain the extent of the necessary remedial work or demolition. It has not been determined as yet whether remedial work or demolition will be undertaken; however, both remedial work and/ or demolition will require funding.

Notices are displayed, to the communities using the pavilion, indicating that no access is allowed to the affected area.

The unsafe area have also been fenced off to restrict access. Furthermore, the area has not been used by the community for many years, said Mr Badroodien.

Strandfontein resident Mario Oostendurp, who makes use of the pavilion for youth programmes, said the building is no longer safe.

“We would like a budget to come through to make it economically viable. The building is completely empty at the moment. The building is over 40 years old, most of the structures are made of wood,” said Mr Oostendurp.

He said they are hopeful that a commercial entity will come through.

Nigel Savel, from Strandfontein, founder of the 9 Miles Project, a youth and community development programme that has been running a cafe from a section of the pavilion, said they have been relocated to another space at the pavilion.

“We don’t know what will be decided on. If we are affected, a plan should be put in place and include us,” he said.

“The pavilion is a safe space for families and young people, it has the potential to be amazing. This place can attract people,” said Mr Savel.

Strandfontein Pavilion was designed by architect Vaughn Burns and developed between 1980 and 1982 by the City of Cape Town as a recreational facility for people of colour, specifically the residents of Mitchell’s Plain and the Cape Flats.

It was also where famed songstress and Langa resident Brenda Fassie gave a live performance shortly after releasing her hit Weekend Special in 1983; and the area surrounding the pavilion was also home to the Cape Flats’ only snake and reptile park in the 1980s.

The pavilion itself boasted The Mermaid restaurant and bar, which was closed in the early 2000s.

In a 2017 notification of intent to Heritage Western Cape to develop the water desalination plant at Strandfontein Pavilion, the City notes that known ship wrecks near the pavilion include that of the Johanna Wagner, which wrecked in 1862 at Zandfontein (Strandfontein), located about 2/3km west of the Strandfontein tidal pool, which at the time it was built was the largest in the southern hemisphere; and that of the Protee, which wrecked at Strandfontein in 1839.

In the same notification of intent to develop, it is noted that when archaeologist Lita Webley from archaeology and heritage specialists, ACO Associates, assessed the tidal pool for potential impacts on archaeological resources for a proposed film set, she found that in the late 1960s archaeologists recorded the presence of isolated and ephemeral scatters of stone artefacts and shell middens (ancient rubbish dumps) on the beaches of Strandfontein, Swartklip and Macassar.

According to Ken Young, a retired building contractor, several Bushmen burials were uncovered during excavations and bulk earthworks for the Strandfontein Pavilion but these were illegally reburied in soft sands in the surrounding area.

Mr Jansen has asked for the assistance of the Ward 43 ward committee to establish a trust to have a stake in the process should council decide to dispose this part of the False Bay coastline for economic development. He stressed though that it cannot only be Strandfontein-driven but rather a Mitchell’s Plain development trust.

Mr Jansen said his office will set up a public meeting in the following months to discuss the pavilion further. He said while he is creating public awareness around this and other projects in the ward, the business sector must organise themselves.