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Revamped pool vandalised

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After spending nearly R7 million on revamping the Brian Hermanus Community Swimming Pool in Floors, the Sol Plaatle Municipality now has to major repair work as a result of vandals targeting the facility.

SORRY SIGHT: The green swimming pool and broken cement chairs and tables. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE R6.77 million revamped Florianville Swimming Pool, which was unofficially opened to community members in December, has become the latest victim of vandalism in the city and was again yesterday closed to the public.

The facility, which has still not been officially opened, has been broken into every night in the past week. Everything of value has been stolen while fittings and fixtures have been broken or removed.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie confirmed that a decision was taken yesterday to close the pool as a result of the vandalism.

“Because of the vandalism, we are unable to guarantee the safety of the public using the pool presently,” he said.

Matsie explained yesterday that the pool was refurbished and returned to the municipality’s Parks and Recreation Section late last year.

“With the handing over of the facility to us, we noticed shortcomings in so far as safety and security are concerned. For example, there is easy access to the facility over a brick wall, while robust security gates are not in place and there is no visible security on the premises.”

According to Matsie, the ongoing vandalism and theft of essential filtration equipment and other items necessitated the closure of the pool until such time as the security issues could be dealt with.

“We have sourced the assistance of the Maintenance Unit of Sol Plaatje Municipality to deal with these issues to enable us to open the pool as soon as possible.”

He added that the pool was opened in December 2018 due to public demand as all relevant role-players to officially open the pool were not available during the festive period.

“The official opening of the swimming pool and its renaming to Brian Hermanus will take place once all issues have been dealt with.”

During the revamping, major upgrading took place and the pool was converted to an Olympic-size short course which would allow the hosting of national events.

A visit to the pool yesterday painted a sorrowful picture. Almost every window had been smashed, doors were missing and in some instances only the door frames remained, while water pipes and taps in the showers had been ripped out of the walls, resulting in the flooding of the change-rooms, the seat numbers on the pavilion had been ripped off and thrown into the pool and the wires on the main circuit board had been stolen, leaving the complex, including the swimming pool pumps, without electricity. As a result the water looks like green soup and the bottom of the pool was not visible.

Even light fixtures and electrical cabling had been removed, while cement tables and chairs that had been placed on the grassed area around the pool had been ripped out and smashed.

Faried Joseph, chairperson of the Floors Swimming Club, said yesterday that vandals were jumping over the wall to gain access to the facility at night.

Joseph explained that Sol Plaatje Municipality decided to open the pool in the middle of December to allow community members to use the facility during the hot weather. “However, little was done to secure the pool and prevent access after hours. The spikes, which were supposed to have been installed on the fence to prevent people from jumping over, have only been put up on one section of the wall. There are no burglar bars on the windows and the alarm system, which used to work before the revamp, has not been reconnected.”

He added that on Thursday last week, he caught a group of about 50 youngsters jumping over the fence to swim. “I contacted the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s Security Section but they did not respond.”

On Friday, the caretaker at the pool showed Joseph how the putty in all the windows had been removed. “It was obvious that they intended to remove the windows. Over the weekend, not only was the facility broken into again but the windows were smashed.”

The pool was revamped after the money was availed by the national Department of Sport and Recreation for the upgrading of sport and recreation facilities. The successful service provider was appointed in March 2017 and work commenced the following month.

Once completed, the pool remained closed for several weeks, awaiting an official opening and renaming (to the Brian Hermanus Swimming Pool) by the Sol Plaatje executive mayor, who at that stage had not yet been appointed.

Eventually, the decision was taken in December to reopen the pool, not only to provide relief for community members in the heat but also in an attempt to prevent youngsters from jumping over the fence and using the facility despite the fact that there were no lifeguards on duty.

Members of the community yesterday urged the municipality to do something to prevent the pool from being totally destroyed by vandals.

“Millions of rand have been spent on upgrading this pool. It is a fantastic facility and should not be allowed to be destroyed. The municipality should take ownership of the facility and ensure that it is properly secured so that people cannot just jump over the fence at night.”

At the end of last year, Swim SA (SSA) vice-president Zikie Molusi, who was in Kimberley at the time, visited the pool and commented on the ongoing upgrading of the facilities, pointing out that a facility of this nature within communities augured well for the development of athletes that in turn could assist in producing elite black swimmers capable of delivering Olympic medals in the near future.