The eThekwini Municipality’s head of stadiums, Vusi Mazibuko, addressed residents at the Nelson Mandela Youth Centre on Monday evening over their concerns at paying a recently implemented annual fee for using the stadium. He said members from his department had visited the stadium recently and found that the track needed to be upgraded.
“There is nothing wrong with the track. It’s a good track but it’s a question of time and how long the track has been there,” said Mazibuko.
He added engineers were still assessing the facility to determine how many layers of the track needed to be replaced. He could not estimate the cost of the upgrade.
Mazibuko said the annual permit, which costs R180 per adult and R80 for children aged 17 and under, applied to the use of the inner field only.
The community could use the area outside the stadium boundary.
On January 3, a notice was placed outside the stadium notifying residents that they required a permit to use the stadium.
According to Mazibuko, a tariff policy was implemented by the city more than 18 years ago, similar to that of the Kings Park Athletics Stadium, but the previous stadium supervisors had allegedly not implemented it.
He said the issue was discussed at council and it was decided the annual tariff be charged from this year.
Residents at the meeting said they intended opposing the permit and suggested a delegation be formed to meet with the mayor.
One resident said the stadium provided a haven for children and families to keep fit.
“A child cannot run on the road because children are being abducted and women are being raped. If you go around our local grounds, you will find used condoms scattered around. The community will not accept these tariff charges... The stadium may become a white elephant.”
He said the city could set aside R20 million for the erection of statues, “but tell my children they cannot train at the stadium”.
Community activist, Devan Naicker, said asking a family comprising two adults and children to pay a fee to keep fit was absurd.
“That is ridiculous. We are a poor community. Putting food on the table is so hard for some families, let alone forking out such high fees for a community facility.”
He said the Durban beaches also had council infrastructure, comprising showers and ablution facilities, “but do you think the city council will ever charge those beach users R180 per adult to use the beach?”
The chairperson of the Moorton Community Policing Forum, Zain Sulieman, suggested the permit policy be revised or amended.
The permit policy will come into effect on February 1. Pensioners have been excluded from paying, and security personnel will monitor the entrance.
For enquiries on applying for the permit, residents can go to the pool behind the stadium track.