Thieves have stolen almost the entire Zithobeni stadium near Bronkhorstspruit in Gauteng, which was built for R44.3 million just over a year ago by the Tshwane metro.
Water pipes, electrical fittings, door and window frames, and the cafeteria’s roll-down service opening have been stolen, and now the perimeter fence is going.
Urinals, toilet bowls, basins and copper pipe fittings have been ripped from the walls of all the ablution facilities.
Bathroom fittings that could not be stolen have been destroyed and turned into a heap of rubble, with electrical fittings also ripped off the walls and rafters.
Almost the entire facility’s doors, as well as door and window frames, have either been stolen or vandalised.
The cafeteria’s roll-down service opening has been stolen, with dressing rooms and guardrooms not spared the rampage.
Water is seeping and flowing around after thieves stole pipe fittings and taps, with freshly painted walls covered in obscene statements.
Players and spectators have no choice but to relieve themselves on the floor, resulting in a permanent nauseating stench.
Electronic turnstile operating systems at the entrance have been stripped – and now thieves have begun stealing the soccer pitch’s perimeter fence.
The stadium has all the hallmarks of an abandoned community facility, with the once-lush lawn disappearing, reducing the soccer pitch to a bare dusty ground. Weeds cover the paved parking area, stall floors and walkways, and rubbish is piling up.
According to residents, the facility was abandoned after the 2016 local government elections during which the ANC lost the city’s administration to the DA.
Philani Ntuli, 17, said the facility was never handed over to the community after construction and was left with no security. Thieves and vandals stripped it under cover of darkness.
“They are eating up the stadium like termites. It is puzzling why the municipality abandoned the stadium after spending millions in taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Another resident, Sarah Ngwenya said: “With no security, the nyaope addicts moved in and stole everything.”
The thieves even dug out trees around the stadium to sell on the main road. People were now stripping the paving bricks.
“What happened here is sad,” she said.
The metro said the extent of the damage was yet to be established but the costs would likely be covered by insurance.
Spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the stadium was completed in April last year when the contractor left the site. At the time there were security guards provided by their regional office in Region 7, but security was withdrawn due to challenges he did not specify.
“There is a city-wide challenge with provision of security personnel since April this year, but plans are under way to have the security reinstated at the facility,” Mashigo said.
He confirmed the facility was never handed over to the community because there were outstanding issues with town planning.
“The consolidation of the two erven on which the facility is situated must be finalised,” Mashigo said.