Sports complex trashed after security withdrawn

Mzoli Matutu looks at damage caused by vandals to the Mfuleni sports complex. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Daneel Knoetze

22 January 2015

Mfuleni’s sports complex was vandalised and looted over the festive season. A community leader, who is lobbying for the trashed buildings to be renovated, has blamed the City of Cape Town for cancelling a contract with a security company to protect the grounds.

The clubhouse, changing rooms and offices at Mfuleni’s Astroturf soccer field lie in ruins. The doors and windows have been ripped out of the walls, so too have the taps and shower heads. Some furniture has been stolen; other items – such as the club house’s pool table – have been trashed. Shattered glass covers the floors of four buildings.

Mzoli Matutu, a community leader, showed GroundUp around. In November, all these buildings were functional and secure and ready to accommodate meetings, training sessions, visiting soccer teams on match days and post match festivities. During the season, which starts in a few weeks, the grounds hosted as many as 20 games a day, usually featuring one of the township’s established soccer teams – the Young Pirates, the Eleven Swallows, and Mfuleni United.

“The thought of asking our opponents, who often travel far to come and play against us, to change outside is embarrassing,” says Matutu.

“We fear that fewer youth will be attracted to join the soccer teams, because this facility is no longer functional. All the sports council meetings that used be held here have been moved. The permanent staff have also been relocated.”

Matutu wants the City of Cape Town to answer for the vandalism of the grounds, to renovate the buildings, and to reintroduce permanent security at the site. The vandalism reportedly started after the City cancelled a contract with a security company to protect the facility.

In response, the City’s Mayco Member for Community Services and Special Projects, Belinda Walker, said that a meeting would be called to discuss the improvement of security at the facility. She also called on the Mfuleni community to make suggestions and to partner with the City in managing and securing the grounds.

“The City’s Sport, Recreation and Amenities Department has had to [reduce] the use of security personnel at some of its facilities to remain within the allocated budget in the current financial year for security services,” she said.

“This Department manages a large number of public facilities across the city and is heavily reliant on the South African Police Service, Metro Police and the local community for assistance in safeguarding these facilities.”