Pretoria - Some residents in Mamelodi have welcomed the long-awaited demolition of the remains of the HM Pitje Multi-Purpose Stadium, and declared it a crucial step towards rebuilding and restoring the community and its iconic feature to its glory days.
This comes as contractors began bringing down the remains of the structure that once attracted thousands of people to the Tshwane township to watch some of the biggest soccer matches, including Mamelodi Sundowns.
It also produced soccer players of international calibre.
Over the years the stadium has been vandalised and steel stands were stolen for their metal value, while some community members helped themselves to the wall and pavement bricks.
And, a group of Mamelodi residents, including some local public figures and soccer legends fought for the stadium to be redeveloped to bring back its glory days. They also wanted the return of the economic opportunities that left the township in the east of Pretoria, where teams like Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport played most of their matches.
Representing lobbygeoup #BringBackHMPitje, Tshepo Ncubuka said he had been watching the beginning of the demolition and called it a promising experience that gave locals hope for a better tomorrow.
He said they had been engaging the Department of Infrastructure Development, the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, and the City of Tshwane who shared ambitions to have the stadium redeveloped. However, it would need at least R1 billion funding from the National Treasury.
Ncubuka said although the battle was far from being won, seeing the work taking place gave them hope because the first phase had commenced and they continued to put pressure on the government. He said they would not to stop until they saw the stadium being rebuilt.
“The stadium was part of the 2020 Fifa World Cup legacy programme, which Fifa left with the Gauteng provincial government, but unfortunately, after the World Cup nothing was done to develop the stadium. It was never compliant with any of the Safa and PSL rules to ensure football could continue after the World cup. In fact, it was only used for training during that time. That pained us because this stadium used to contribute to the GDP of the township.
“We fought and raised the matter with Premier David Makhura from 2015 through his Ntirhisano programme and finally a tender for about R28 million was advertised and Maziya Group won the bid and they are doing the work here. We hope to see the next phase being the commencement of work to rebuild the stadium that was once precious to us and our township economy.”
According to Parliament’s Monitoring Group, they met the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, and the City of Tshwane’s Community and Social Development Services departments to receive reports on the status of the re-development of both the HM Pitje and Odi stadiums.
Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said South Africa was going to host the 2023 Netball World Cup. The redevelopment cost of the stadium was estimated to be R1.3 billion. The department, together with the City of Tshwane, had not yet been granted funding for the development, but there were engagements with the stakeholders to come up with a funding model for the redevelopment.
Kingsol Chabalala, DA spokesperson for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, alleged the government was going to waste R84 million to demolish the stadium.
He said the initially estimated cost implications for the demolition was R69 751 997; the budget estimate submitted by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management as the implementing agent was R84 961 596.71, which includes the contract administration, inspection, demolition of the stadium, site clearing and fencing of the site.
“This money could be used for the rebuilding of the state-of-the-art stadium, and ensure that children and the sporting clubs in Mamelodi and surrounding areas have access to a sporting facility.”