Langa residents up in arms over indoor sports centre closure

“We are too unfit to compete against other clubs” says Langa rugby player

By Marecia Damons

11 September 2023

Langa residents have had to train in this cramped room at the community hall since the Langa Indoor Sports Centre was closed in July due to weather damage. Photo: Marecia Damons

Persistent strong winds and rain has caused further damage to the roof of the Langa Indoor Sports Centre in Cape Town. This has left scores of residents who regularly used the centre without a place to exercise or host activities in the community.

Langa resident and avid bodybuilder, Arnold Letaba, told GroundUp that he was forced to miss out on the bodybuilding championship tournament in Goodwood last weekend because he has not had space to train adequately. He has been a bodybuilder for 13 years.

The sports centre has been closed since July after it was first damaged by weather conditions. According to the City of Cape Town, the roof sheet replacement was meant to be repaired soon. But, “continued strong winds and rain” worsened the damage, necessitating structural engineer assistance, the City said.

Consequently, the sports centre was deemed unsafe and was closed for repairs.

Two months later, the roof is yet to be fixed, and residents like Letaba are frustrated by the closure as many of them cannot afford to train at a private gym.

“[The sport centre] would have opened us up to national opportunities, but we couldn’t go. I’m stuck and frustrated and there’s nothing I can do,” Letaba said.

He said he needs certain equipment and a bigger facility to practise. He added that all sporting clubs that used the sports centre participate at provincial and national levels. Indoor soccer teams from Athlone and Bonteheuwel also used Langa’s centre, he said.

“The kids who were participating in different sports are now just walking around with nothing to do because the facility is closed. We are afraid they might go back to drug and alcohol abuse — that’s how bad it is,” said Letaba.

The Langa community hall is one of the alternative gym venues being used, but the space is small and cannot accommodate the same number of people as the sports centre could.

When GroundUp arrived at 5pm, there were 11 people in the room. Some had to stand against the wall to give others space to do their workouts.

“Most of the [rugby] players in Langa can’t afford places like Planet Fitness, Virgin Active or Zone Fitness. This season, all of our rugby clubs are in relegation zones (bottom of the league) due to the gym closing because we are too unfit to compete against other clubs,” said amateur rugby player, Wilfrid ‘Lion’ Allie.

Resident and stunt actor Akhona Ngedle said, “As a stunt actor, the gym was a good way for me to keep my body in shape for casting calls. If I arrive out of shape, I won’t get the job.”

Patricia van der Ross, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, said the City is in the process of appointing a company to do the repairs.

She said the sports centre was initially going to be one of the 2023 Netball World Cup public viewing venues, but the storm damage prevented this from happening.

She said temporary sheeting will be installed by a roofing specialist to prevent further damage. “We ask the community to bear with us as we restore this well-loved and well-used facility,” Van der Ross said.