Wits Sports Administration (WSA) has spent over an estimated R1 million in the last three months on repairing sports facilities, allegedly vandalised and abused by Wits students, on all Wits campuses.
While the issue has been ongoing for some time, the WSA is now struggling with a lack of finances to pay for on-going repairs.
“Sports admin simply does not have the budget to repair as well maintain all of Wits’ sport facilities. And over the years the sports budget has decreased,” said Vardhan.
The Vuvuzela was told that it costs WSA R300 000 to repair a single tennis court and that to replace damaged or broken tennis court fences will cost R80 000.
WSA, according to Vardhan, generates no profit and on some occasions have to get assistance from PIMD.
When asked by Vuvuzela if WSA was doing anything to improve security around the sports facilities Vardhan replied that locks are put on the facilities gates but they are either cut or damaged.
“Security is an issue and we at WSA have to constantly remind campus security to watch the students during major sports events as well as over the weekend and Friday afternoons.”
Vuvuzela observed that the service delivery gate to the west and east campus gyms have been left open since February and Wits students constantly “hang out” on the cricket pitch.
“Students have no respect for Wits sports property, they cut holes in the tennis fences and run across the cricket pitch in soccer boots,” said Vardhan.
WSA plans to generate enough funding to establish a mobile security team to monitor all of Wits’ sports facilities.
In addition to vandalising sports facilities WSA staff have also observed students vandalising sports ablutions facilities.
The walking of pets on the sports fields and the failure to clean up after them has also become an issue that has been largely publicised.
FREE FOR ALL: A lack of security is largely to blame for damage to majority of Wits' sports facilities. Photo by Akinoluwa Oyedele.
Over R900 000 is to be spent on renovating and replacing equipment in the east campus gym during April.
Wits Sports Administration signed a contract for the renovation of the east campus gym on January 31.
Senior manager Marius Henn said R12 000 worth of spin bicycles and a great deal of other equipment, was to be installed. Over R100 000 would be spent on new weights.
Tshepo Mmakau, senior manager of Horizon View Virgin Active said all equipment should be replaced immediately after their warrantee has expired. A maintenance book and staff should be present at the gym at all times according to Mmakau. The east campus gym has neither.
“The presence of old and not properly fitted equipment is both dangerous and unethical,” added Mmakau.
The east campus gym currently has two exercise bicycles and three rowers, which are in poor working condition. The weights available at the gym are not clearly marked.
Mark Tatham, a 2nd year BA student said, “I had to make do with the equipment the gym had.
Most of the weights are in pounds and, during my first year at the gym, I had to bring a calculator with me to convert the weights from pounds to kilograms.”
Rael Williamson, a 3rd year BSc student, said conditions at the gym had been the same since he started using the facilities three years ago.There are currently no lockers for east campus gym members or proper training mats.
The renovations are in line with plans to make the east campus gym more user-friendly for its female members. The lightest weight at the gym at the moment is 10kg.
Henn said the renovation formed phase one of a two-phase plan to improve the campus gyms. The second phase involved renovating west campus gym. Catering mainly for female students, it has never had a treadmill or free weights.
A petition to have the gym renovated was signed by over 400 members last year.
Henn said a lack of funds had held up renovations. Students and staff pay an annual membership fee of R350. A total of 3 320 students are registered at both gyms.
“We plan the upgrade to start in the April vacation. Then another week, maybe towards the end of April, when the supplier will install the new equipment.”
During the closure, members must use the west campus gym. Notices about the planned renovations will be put up in March.