Vandalism rife as MLM looks the other way

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GK CRONJE

13 July 2021

The underground electrical cables around the swimming pool has been excavated and melted down inside the building. Enterprising looters have also begun breaking down sections of the walls and chipping the bricks clean, presumably for personal use or sale.

With great execrations and excitement, the Pet Dam reform project was announced in mid 2016. Golden promises of ablution blocks, braai areas, security gates and operating hours turned out to be little more than a lick and a promise. Sibongintuthuko Construction was awarded the tender to construct the Betwaview fence, which would be part of the reform project. The fence spans a distance of 720 meters, and Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM) stated that the costs were covered by a Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG). According to MLM at the time, the fencing of the Pet Dam was an initiative bt Gert Sibande District Municipality (GSDM). However, absolutely nothing has come of the project, and to date, the state of the Pet Dam, public swimming pool and surrounding area has, in fact, regressed in shocking fashion. Since its construction, the fence has rusted, sagged and is now lopsided. Sections have been destroyed by vehicular accidents, and a section has been cut open by vandals to provide easy shortcuts to the loot at the abandoned public swimming pool.

Despite promises from MLM and GSDM that the area would be spruced up, and that the public swimming pool would be, once again, be an popular attraction, the exact opposite has transpired. The main purpose of the fence has been defeated, and loitering, littering and groups of vagrants and vandals setting up camp in the husk of the swimming pool building is the order of the day. Despite enquiries from over the span of several months, no response has been received from neither the GSDM Communication Unit, nor MLM. Several instances of vandalism and looting had been reported since approximately 2017, where intoxicated residents partying at the swimming pool building damaged the building in their drunken stupor. Fast forward to 2021, and the swimming pool, building, pump house and storage room has been looted of all that is valuable. A lack of action taken by both MLM and the SAPS is to blame. Residents in the vicinity of the Pet Dam has complained on several occasions that they have reported instances of looting and vandalism to the SAPS, who in turn claimed that they either did not have vehicles, or did not have officers to respond to the complaints. Upon investigation, the swimming pool building is an empty husk. Literally everything for value has been stripped from the building. The bathrooms have been vandalized beyond repair, with basins, toilets, shower heads and taps being long gone. The pump room has been systematically looted, with the water pipes being sawn off to access the inner copper lining. The filtration tanks are being cut apart piece by piece, and will soon be carried away as well. The lower parts of the roof has been looted and the beams are missing.

Even the metal front gate, which was once locked, is missing. All window frames have been looted, and bricks have been gouged from the walls to strip the water pipes. The inside area of the swimming pool is strewn with melted plastic casings of electrical cables, and the remnants of the electrical infrastructure leaves nothing to be looted. The underground electrical cables around the swimming pool has been excavated and melted down inside the building. Enterprising looters have also begun breaking down sections of the walls and chipping the bricks clean, presumably for personal use or sale. The swimming pool, as well as the kid’s splash pool, is kept full by a water leak emanating from a looted water pipe. The leak had been reported to MLM in 2017, and the municipality has, to date, failed to take action to remedy the leak. It begs the question as to who foots the bill for this colossal waste of potable water, and why MLM has failed to take action in this regard. When all is said and done, the swimming pool, the surrounding buildings and the ghastly Pet Dam are all part of the large-scale collapse of Msukaligwa Local Municipality. The once glorious swimming pool is but a shadow if its former self, with the smell of urine and feces further tainting the dilapidated image of the site. Even amidst loud, yet hollow barking from councillors who threatened to lock the gates of the Pet Dam and hire security companies, the deafening silence of utter incompetence overbears all.