The project developer of Kaizer Chiefs' new multimillion-rand football stadium has blamed the 2010 Fifa World Cup for years of delays in construction.
Residents of Mogale City (previously Krugersdorp), west of Johannesburg, have been waiting in vain since July 2006 for construction work on the old Bob van Renen stadium to begin. Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung, now says work on the stadium precinct will start in July.
Municipal spokesperson Bongani Gaeje confirmed that there have been "developments on the matter" and that mayor Calvin Seerane will soon make an announcement.
Initial construction work was expected to start in July 2006 and be completed in 2008. Mogale City, Chiefs, Lefika Emerging Equity (the project developer) and the Gauteng provincial government entered into a 99-year leasing agreement in 2003.
Lefika's project manager, Serf Joubert, has blamed escalating construction costs on 2010 projects he says are behind the delay. "You will appreciate that the 2010 projects took precedence over this one and, as a consequence, there were escalations that necessitated that we delay the project."
Motaung also blamed construction costs for the delay.
"People tend to forget that this project was not funded by government; therefore, it was difficult to come up with the R1.2billion that was needed for the stadium," said Motaung, who is also a director of Lefika.
"We sat down and decided to change the design of the stadium so we could finish the project. We decided to reduce the seating capacity from 55 000 to 35 000 and the cost will not be more than R700-million."
On completion, the stadium will be equipped with a variety of sports facilities and a hotel.
In 2008 the Mail & Guardian reported that Lefika had allegedly delayed the construction of the Kaizer Chiefs stadium because it could not raise the R1,2-billion needed for the construction.
The company also allegedly failed to adhere to environmental assessment and heritage preservation regulations.
Bob van Renen is not the only stadium Lefika is involved in. The company was also appointed project manager for the controversial Mbombela World Cup stadium in Nelspruit.
Motaung, son of Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung, Herbert Theledi and Chris Grib are listed as Lefika's directors.
A source with knowledge of the development told the M&G that Lefika was in "sensitive talks" about the future of the development.
The M&G has established that Gauteng's department of infrastructure development awarded a contract in September 2008 for the "assessment and scoping of bulk services and access road infrastructure" at the Bob van Renen precinct.
The tender was awarded to the Moteko Tau Pride Consortium which, according to Moteko's Madoda Vilakazi, finished the project. He declined to reveal the value of the contract.
Meanwhile, the community of Mogale City has started lobbying against the municipality's contract with Lefika because of the lack of development at the stadium.
The Save Bob van Renen group (which also has a Facebook page) aims to get 20 000 community members to sign a petition demanding the cancellation of the Lefika agreement and the return of the facility to the community.
The M&G is in possession of the petition which reads: "We — residents, business owners, taxpayers and students of Mogale City are shocked and appalled by the state of Bob van Renen stadium. We oppose the leasing and development of Bob van Renen on the grounds that no progress has been made in the development of the Amakhosi stadium.
"The project was supposed to have been handed over in December 2008. We therefore request that the lease agreement between the Mogale City council and Lefika/Kaizer Chiefs be annulled and that the stadium be handed back to the relevant sports bodies.
"The council of Mogale City as well as the councillors should take full responsibility for the deterioration, and we demand that the stadium should be restored to the same state before the vandalism took place."
Community member Delia Smith told the M&G that the stadium's facilities are in a shocking state. She said that waste pipes are blocked, the bathrooms are filthy and the grass hasn't been cut for months.
There are also claims that rooms in the stadium have been rented out at R150 a night.
The action group has written to President Jacob Zuma's office, pleading with him to intervene in the matter.
According to the letter, schools in the community are dependent on the facilities at Bob van Renen.
"In our area there are around 150 schools, with only the elite schools having good training facilities for standard sport. None offers specialised facilities — Our own studies show that most [areas] of Kagiso and Munsieville are without facilities. Krugersdorp is now also lacking facilities and sport development will fall behind due to a lack of facilities," the letter to Zuma reads.