Confusion over use of sports ground

Uncertainty reigns on whether Southbourne Primary School can utilise Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) owned property, the Sandringham Sports Grounds.

In an interview with The Rep, principal Marelise Bekker said the school had an influx of pupils and had tried to lease a portion of the premises since 2015. The school was currently leasing a house opposite the institution which they have renovated and transformed into classrooms.

Bekker stated that after many years of negotiating with the municipality, the school was given permission to use the premises in a meeting with EMLM acting manager, town planning, Adele Boucher.

“We want so start a new chapter for these historic grounds and the initial idea is to preserve the sports club and revitalise its slowly diminishing history. We want to utilise the facility as part of our school expansion project. The municipality had promised to send the letter of agreement last Friday, but I have still not received anything yet.

“The idea is to involve the community and get viable plans and assistance from relevant experts to renovate the buildings and sports ground. We need old and young sports enthusiasts who are willing to assist us with this project. These facilities will be made available to other schools as well. That is the initial plan,” said Bekker.

The Rep reported (“Total destruction” March 8) that the Sandringahm Sports Ground building had caught alight, resulting in the clubhouse burning to the ground. The manager in the office of the mayor, Butsha Lali, said the cause of the fire was unknown and he had reported the matter for investigation by the office of the acting municipal manager.

The Rep also reported (“Sandringham goes back” December 2, 2011) that when a 25-year lease contract between the club and the then Lukhanji Municipality expired in 2007, the local authority would not renew it in spite of protracted negotiations and appeals.

“The decision led to to the dissolution of the club founded in 1938 by the late Aiden Green. The insurance value of the improvements on the site amounted to R8.5m. The lease had been the subject of prolonged wrangling, with the Border Rugby Football Union (BRFU) initially showing interest in taking over the lease. The BRFU later indicated it did not have the means or capacity to take over and would rather the lease be granted to the club. The club approached the municipality for the renewal of the lease in 2004, but council declined without giving reasons.”

In response to a query sent to EMLM spokesperson Gcobani Msindwana, the municipality advised the school against using the facility until due processes had been concluded. A communique written to the school read: “It has come to the attention of the municipality through recent public remarks that Southbourne Primary School is of the intention to effect some alterations and/or improvements to the Sandringham Sports Grounds and facilities for the use of the school. In this regard we wish to advise the school against such actions without the express and written approval from the municipality. Much as the school’s request for the utilisation of the sports fields is under consideration by the municipality, we further wish to advise that there is still an ongoing investigation into the arson that occurred some time ago at some of the buildings on the said premises. We sincerely appeal for the school’s patience while investigations are in the process of being concluded and respectfully request the school to refrain from making any alterations to the facilities until official approval has been issued by the municipality.

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