Bay United general manager Lungsi Mooi sits among the weeds at the EPRU Stadium
THE Eastern Province Rugby Union Stadium, once the proud home of top class rugby in Port Elizabeth, is being systematically stripped by looters while historic memorabilia in the stadium’s offices and once plush hospitality suites have been vandalised and trampled on.
Now staff still left working in the stadium say they fear for their safety.
|Boet Erasmus Stadium|
|Country||City||Stadium Name||Capacity||Seats||Standing Seats|
|South Africa||Port Elizabeth||Boet Erasmus Stadium||33852||33852||0|
|Some best attendances Boet Erasmus Stadium|
|Order||Team 1||Team 2||Score||Attendance||Year||Competition||Sport|
|1||SOUTH AFRICA||CANADA||20-0||31000||1995||World cup Rugby Group A||Rugby|
|2||CANADA||ROMANIA||34-3||18000||1995||World cup Rugby Group A||Rugby|
|3||AUSTRALIA||CANADA||27-11||15000||1995||World cup Rugby Group A||Rugby|
When Weekend Post visited the dilapidated stadium, efforts to enter the once grand Lawton Fourie Room proved difficult because of a cascade of water falling from the ceiling.
The guardhouse building at the main gate was unmanned and access to the stadium and the lifts in the main pavilion was unrestricted.
Many of the abandoned suites were littered with broken glass, smashed windows and hanging electrical fittings which had been ripped out of the wall.
One room, which appeared once to have been used by the EPRU, had been ransacked and the drawers of a filing cabinet containing disciplinary case hearings rifled through and files strewn on the floor. The sliding door leading out from the suite had also been shattered.
Photographs of proud moments in the history of EP Rugby lie discarded on the floor amid shattered glass panes. One suite, with a nameplate on the door: “Alan Solomons EP head coach”, has been abandoned and ransacked.
Though rugby is no longer played at the stadium, the run-down venue is now the logistical and training headquarters of Bay United which has administrative offices in the main grandstand. This week United general manager Lungsi Mooi spoke of her fear of going to work because of brazen looters entering the premises and stripping anything valuable out of the once luxurious wood-panelled suites.
Mooi, who has her office on the third floor of the main pavilion, is concerned for her safety because of the aggressive looting and lack of security at the stadium, which is municipal property. “I do not like spending time here any more. I have phoned the municipality to tell them about the looting on numerous occasions, but nothing is done.”
Sitting among the towering weeds on one of the stadium’s stands, Mooi appealed to the municipality to step up security and stop the looters from stripping the stadium’s remaining assets. “This place has become dilapidated and it is sad to see. Something drastic needs to be done.
“There is talk that the stadium will eventually be demolished and new buildings erected. But I have heard nothing officially,” Mooi said.
Though Bay United play their matches at Gelvandale, the stadium once known as the Boet Erasmus is their logistical headquarters and they train on the main field.
The United players do not use the changerooms as they are in a poor state of repair.
“We were just put here temporarily, so we cannot take charge of things like security and looting. Someone at local government or the municipality needs to take charge,” Mooi said.
She said she would not like the stadium to be demolished as it could still serve a purpose as a sporting facility.
“There is a need for facilities like this and I still see a future for the stadium. We could play our lesser games here while the big matches could be played at the new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium,” Mooi said.
Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said the looting was not acceptable and that the situation would be examined.
“Even though there are plans to demolish the stadium we will have to look at an interim measure to stop the looting. Bay United have been placed at the stadium on a temporary basis. More permanent arrangements will have to be made for them,” Baron said.
In its heyday the Boet Erasmus was one of South Africa’s top four rugby stadiums and regularly attracted crowds of more than 50000 for tests against the All Blacks and British Lions.
One of the most famous games at the stadium was in 1974 when the Boks lost to the Lions in what became known as the “Battle of the Boet”.