Khayelitsha’s all-girl soccer club pitch is flooded with sewage and rubbish

Mayco members give contradictory reasons for what’s happening

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

13 September 2022

Ward councillor Anele Gabuza stands on what was remains of the once lush green soccer pitch in Harare, Khayelitsha. The pitch, built during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, is completely destroyed due to intermittent sewage spills. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

This photo taken in early 2020 shows what the soccer pitch in Harare, Khayelitsha looked like before it was damaged by overflowing sewage and rubbish. Photo supplied by: Vuyolwethu Kayi

An all-girl soccer club in Khayelitsha, Cape Town has closed because the soccer turf where they train is dilapidated due to intermittent sewage spills.

Vuyolwethu Kayi coaches the junior football team of the Resilient and Victorious United Women’s Football Club (RV United). He said the soccer field frequently floods with sewage, causing the pitch to deteriorate. The teams can’t train for matches and are struggling to get another space in the community.

The soccer field is situated at the Violence Prevention and Urban Upgrading (VPUU) site in Harare. It was built during the 2010 FIFA World Cup by non-profit organisation, Grassroots Soccer South Africa. But due to funding challenges, Grassroots handed over the facility to the City of Cape Town, Kayi said. (We’ve been unable to contact Grassroots.)

He said their trouble started once work on sewage in the area started nearby. “The City promised to fix it by the end of July, but we are in September and nothing has been done,” said Kayi. Training has not resumed since the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

Ward councillor Anele Gabuza showed this reporter how flooded the space still was. There was a foul smell in the air and if Gabuza did not point out the space, it would be difficult to know that it was once a hive of activity for the youth in Harare.

“The main problem is with the sewage because it causes flooding and damage. This area used to be so beautiful and clean. The soccer field had green grass, fencing and it was being used by the youth for their soccer matches. Now there is nothing,” said Gabuza.

Patricia van der Ross, Mayco Member for Community Service and Health, said the area acts as a stormwater retention pond. “The cause of the flooding is a result of foreign objects in storm water pipes such as clogged sand, stones and many other objects that block the flow of stormwater.”

If true, it would be hard to understand why a city-backed project like the VPUU would be built on a stormwater retention pond.

But Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Water and Sanitation said the overflow “had no bearing on the condition of the soccer pitch”. He said the soccer pitch was already partially affected by construction in the area.

Van der Ross said the soccer pitch would be replaced once funding becomes available, but did not indicate when this is likely to happen.