Heritage square sculptures vandalised

Less than a month after Pampoenkraal Heritage Square was opened to the public, its R500 000 centrepiece art installation has been vandalised.

There are five CCTV cameras around the square, but none of them was working on Tuesday October 31 when two of the installation’s sculptures were damaged: a horn was cut off one of the bull sculptures and the left hand of the sculpture of a small boy kneeling next to a set of toy bulls was sliced off and stolen. The right horn of one of the toy bulls was also chipped.

The City spent R500 000 of its R10 million Pampoenkraal budget on the installation by artist Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe.

Ward 112 councillor Theresa Uys said vandalism, theft and vagrancy were hampering efforts to clean up the Durbanville CBD. Ms Uys has reported the vandalism to the police.

Northern News reported last week on the town hall, which the councillor wants reopened to the public after it was closed for two years during the heritage development (“Hall ‘centre’ of town,” Northern News, November 2).

At the time, Ms Uys said the amphitheatre, which was part upgrades to the area, was becoming a hot spot for skateboarders, and lighting under the newly installed stairs was being stripped.

Earlier this year, pot plants were stolen in the same week they had been placed in front of Wellington Road businesses. Ms Uys said the pot plants had been replaced and stolen again. The futile exercise cost R50 000 of her ward allocation.

Ms Uys said CBD business owners had to clean up urine and litter left in their doorways by vagrants before they could open their shops.

The Rust-en-Vrede Gallery’s Donavan Mynhardt said they had to clear beer bottles, wine boxes and human waste daily from the premises. And vagrants were using the gallery’s garden to stow their belongings and hang their washing.

“This look extremely bad to visitors of the gallery – especially tourists and out-of-towners,” he said.

Vagrants were also intimidating and harassing female gallery staff and visitors as well as the elderly.

“They’ve thrown bricks at each other on numerous occasions, endangering passers-by. Staff members have been verbally assaulted on numerous occasions. This is even worse when they are intoxicated. We’ve had two instances when one or two have passed out drunk in front of the gate,” he said.

Mr Mynhardt said the front and side gates were now being locked at 4pm and they had had to advise visitors to park at the back entrance in Church Street or at the side entrance in Oxford Street.

“We have a security guard on site, so the visiting public are generally left in peace when on the property,” he said.

Ms Uys called on the community to support charities helping the homeless, such as Mould Empower Serve (MES), instead of encouraging homeless people to stay on the streets by giving to them directly.

“Homeless people are being sustained by the community. There are genuine street people who need help but this should be done in a responsible manner,” she said.

The City has condemned the vandalism at the square. “This artwork is enjoyed by both visitors and the community of Durbanville. Public art should spark debate and elicit responses from the community, but vandalism flies in the face of this framework,” said City spokeswoman Hayley van der Woude.