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In Khowa town in the Eastern Cape (formerly known as Elliot) there is another shocking multi-million rand sportsfield linked to Thalami Civils.

Two weeks ago Elitsha newspaper investigated the R15-million sportsfield in Komani built by Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM), a R4-million taxi rank in Tsomo town under IntsikaYethu Local Municipality and a R64-million Centane taxi rank built by Mnquma Local Municipality. In all these projects Thalami Civils was contracted.

Photos of Lesseyton sportsfield in Ndlovukazi Location in Komani circulated on social media shocking the nation following the handing over of this ground by EMLM mayor, Luleka Gubhula. The MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in the Eastern Cape, Xolile Nqatha also rubbished the claims that an amount of R15-million was used to build the Lesseyton sportsfield. He has asked the local municipality to account for the money spent and the facility has since been closed to allow for the investigation.

In Khowa, Sakhisizwe sportsfield in ward 2, Veris location has cost tax payers more than R23-million and it also remains closed. According to residents Thalami Civic left in early 2020 and has not returned.

A statement compiled by the Sakhisizwe municipal manager, Nomthandazo Mazwayi states that in the 2017/2018 financial year, the Department of Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture funded Sakhisizwe Local Municipality the amount of R12.5-million for the construction of Ward 2 Sportsfield. The municipality initiated procurement processes and the bid adjudication committee recommended a consortium whose bid totalled just over R11-million, which was within the allocated budget of R12.5-million. She said the recommendations were presented to the municipal manager then in office (his name known to Elitsha) who went on to appoint Big Family Construction for the job at a bid amount of over R16-million.

Mazwayi said, “Big Family did not finish the scope of work as per the signed contract document and on the 26th June 2019, the municipality appointed Thalami Civils (Pty) Ltd at  the bid amount of R5,432,829.66 bid.” On its website, Thalami Civil lists among its construction projects a “R7.5-million contract” to build Sakhisizwe sportsfield.

Mazwayi said Big Family Construction ceded the remaining work to Thalami Civils for R818,817.30 (VAT included) which is completing phase 1 to the municipality’s satisfaction, though with a R1-million top-up. Sky High Consulting Engineers was also appointed to provide professional services for an amount that was a third of the R2.2-million they were ultimately paid.

Field visit

Elitsha visited the Sakhisizwe Ward 2 sportsfield last week and this is what we found:

There are five small grandstands, two overlooking what looks like a soccer field but with just two goalposts, another two on what looks like a rugby field and one next to basketball or volley ball court.Part of the fence in this sport field is damagedThe soccer field is nothing but grassGrass growing between slabs of concreteAn athletics track around the supposed soccer fieldA small building at the entrance and change room facilities.

In 2019, the Auditor General made findings of R5-million against Big Family Construction. Mazwayi said the mayor laid charges of corrupt activities in the construction project at Cala Police Station. The matter is now under investigations by the Hawks but no arrest has been made. The municipal manager implicated was suspended in October 2018 and has since been dismissed.

The sportsfield is yet to be handed over to residents pending final touch-ups. Residents said they are tired of the wait.

Stinking sewage marks a boundary of a sportsfield in Khowa while a multi-million sport facility is not used.

Opposite the Sakhisizwe sportsfield there’s a soccer ground used for leagues and tournaments. It is surrounded by dirty water from broken sewerage drains. In the middle of the field there’s a hole. Bulelani May is a coach of Friendly City Foot Club from Polar Park location. He said the sports ground they are using caters for Veris, Polar Park and Takalani. “When municipality started building the sport field we were happy. They promised to hand it over to us in 2019 but that never happened. Instead we saw construction companies being changed and there was no explanations given to us as residents,” said May

He said as a coach he just wants a sportsfield and does not care how much was spent on it. “As players we are desperate for a sport field,” he said.

Community leader, Aviwe Mpakane said residents are tired of waiting. “If this sport field is for the community then the municipality must hand it over to us. We can’t continue playing on a ground surrounded with sewerage water while there’s a multi-million rand sport field just opposite us,” said Mpakane

Nongetheni Tetana from the old location in Kowa is 80 years old. She told Elitsha that she moved to the area before 1991. “As you can see I still live in a shack that has leakages. My shack is surrounded by stinking water from broken sewerage.” She said the municipality is aware of the broken sewerage pipes in the area but nothing has been done about them. “My neighbour’s house broke down years ago because of this water. They gave her a temporary house,” she said, “This water is stinking. In summer I do not open my windows.”

Tetana said since 1994 she has voted for the ANC, but has decided to vote for another political party at the 1 November local government polls. “ANC will continue failing us,” she said.

80-year-old Nongetheni Tetana says the ANC has failed to deliver services to the people.

Monwabisi Malungisa, a DA councilor said the condition of the Sakhisizwe sportsfield did not reflect that more than R23-million had been used to construct it.  “We regard this as a waste of money. This sport field was completed in 2020 but our clubs are still using grounds with sewerage water,” said Malungisa. “People are being failed here. The millions wasted here to benefit individuals should have been used to fix the broken sewerage and collect rubbish.”