R700m Sibaya casino project unveiled

By Greg Arde Time of article published May 16, 2003

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The power players on the Durban business and political scene on Thursday unveiled the latest of the city's mega projects: the R727 million Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom, due to open in October next year.

Thursday's sod-turning ceremony for the city's second casino licence drew mayor Obed Mlaba, Premier Lionel Mtshali and businessman Vivian Reddy, to name but a few of the dignitaries. Perched on top of a hill cleared of sugar cane they took in the splendid 180 degree sea views and surveyed the 48ha site that will be the home to a thousand slot machine and 37 table casino and hotel complex owned by Afrisun.

The company is a consortium comprising local businessman Oscar Dhlomo, Sun International, empowerment company Afrileisure, property company Moreland and a trust representing black interests.

Afrisun is the owner of the temporary SugarMill casino at Mount Edgecombe and the 76-room luxury lodge Zimbali.

The development of Sibaya will, according to Dhlomo, create 1 500 direct jobs and seven thousand indirect jobs during construction. The casino is likely to be pitched at the top end of the leisure market to capitalise on its close location to Zimbali, where 50% of the luxury units are owned by foreigners.

The new casino will have an "imbizo" conference centre and traditional cattle enclosure for Zulu weddings.

Sun International managing director Peter Bacon described the development as "iconic", while Dhlomo said at least 120 contractors would be on site soon. Bulldozers have already cleared two expanses of land.

Afrisun says Sibaya, about 1km south of the Umdloti Beach interchange, will have a strong Zulu theme that will incorporate a 500 seater Zulu theatre; a boma for 250 people, an entertainment village; and an opportunity to experience local arts, crafts, Zulu dancing, stick fighting, music, and traditional ceremonies.

According to Afrisun's Kagiso Ntanga: "Traditional and contemporary Zulu designs and themes recur throughout

Sibaya, including a giant bronze statue of a warrior, his spear and shield held high, and two life size bronze buffalo that welcome guests on arrival."

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