Thieves strip popular stadium

Khayelitsha police have been accused of failing in their obligation to deal with crime and ignoring calls for help while criminals tear apart Site C stadium.

The stadium, which recently underwent an upgrade and had a Astroturf unveiled, is now almost in ruins. Most sections of the stadium, including the change rooms, have been damaged, while wire fencing is almost non-existent.

Metal gates and pavers around the stadium have been removed, while Vibracrete walls in some sections of the field have also been stolen.

Lighting at the facility is also a thing of the past, with criminals having twice stolen the cables in a matter of days.

More interestingly, are rumours that some of the things stolen from the grounds are being used in some houses close to the stadium.

HOD of the facility, Simphiwe Siqengqa, said since the end of last year things have gotten out of hand. Mr Siqengqa, who resides at the stadium, said the thefts began while he was on holiday, in Maclear, Eastern Cape, and simply escalated when he got back.

He said his life and that of the security were now at risk, as the criminals were hell-bent on looting the facility. He said the security, who looks after the facility at night, was more than twice manhandled by the criminals as they demanded keys to some sections of the field.

Mr Siqengqa said since Thursday January 5, there had been no peace at the stadium and every time they called for police assistance, SAPS didnt’ pitch.

On the first day, he said, the criminals stole bags of cement stored at the facility and concrete slabs. They then removed the electric cables, leaving the facility without power.

“I was worried that things would get worse. I requested that the cables be replaced almost immediately. They were replaced, but those guys came back in the night to steal them again,” he said.

But because they had been secured with cement, they struggled to get to them.

“When I woke up, they were working and simply ignored everything. I approached them, hoping they would stop, but they just continued. I decided to turn go back in case they were armed,” he said.

Mr Siqengqa said their biggest worry was the police.

He said recently sporting bodies from around Site C went on a campaign to raise awareness about the stadium and to urge the community to protect it.

He said they were amazed to find most of the things stolen at the stadium were being used in people’s homes. “The paving that is for the stadium is used in various houses around here,” said Mr Siqengqa.

Chairperson of the Lingelethu Football Association, Thulani Njwili, also lashed out at the police for their alleged failure to act.

“This is really getting out of hand. What people do not realise is that we are the luckiest community in the whole of Khayelitsha,” he said, adding that most communities needed such facilities.

“This is an attack on sport,” he said.

“We try to prevent it in the day. We even arrested one boy recently and they only got here after five hours.”

He said police have failed dismally to help.

“Now we do not know where to go anymore. Police only come to play and are nowhere when we need their help. The worst is this all happened in a space of two months,” said Mr Njwili.

He also urged the community to take a stand and take ownership of the facility, instead of buying material stolen from the stadium.

“All the items that are stolen are here in this community. We are now trying to engage them to stop this,” he said.

Speaking to Vukani after a meeting held at the stadium on Saturday January 21, councilllor Ntomboxolo Kopman called on the community to identify the perpetrators. She added that pavers from the stadium were being used at some homes around the facility.

Ms Kopman said the current vandalism had halted further development at the stadium, and money budgeted for that would have to be sent back to the City of Cape Town.

“We had R1.3 million set aside for the development of the stadium. We wanted to do an outdoor gym, but that has now been postponed,” she said.

“We want to see the work completed, but we cannot do that if the community is vandalising the facility.”

Ms Kopman said another solution to the problem would be to employ security guards based in Site C as they would be able to identify offenders.

Police spokesperson Captain Marcellus Rajap urged members of the association to visit the station to discuss the matter.

The City of Cape Town had not responded to questions at the time of going to print.