Damage to Rhodes Memorial Restaurant. Picture: Friends of Rhodes Memorial.
Damage to Rhodes Memorial Restaurant. Picture: Friends of Rhodes Memorial.

Concern with vandalism after delayed restoration of Rhodes Memorial Restaurant

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Sep 29, 2021

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Cape Town - Friends of Rhodes Memorial (Form), a concerned group of people which wants to see the area restored after the devastating fire earlier this year, said Table Mountain National Parks is failing to rehabilitate and rebuild the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant.

Peter Hammond, a member of the group, said after five months of negotiating with SANParks and the Department of Public Works, Form was finally granted access to clean up after the disastrous fire and have been cleaning up the vandalised heritage site.

Hammond said the the delayed effort to rehabilitate and rebuild the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant was unacceptable and led to it being vandalised.

“If the area was open to the public and if the restaurant was being rebuilt, we would not have seen this huge amount of damage,” said Hammond.

Damage to Rhodes Memorial Restaurant. | Friends of Rhodes Memorial

SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton said SANParks rangers were patrolling the area to mitigate vandalism and general criminality after cables were stolen from the restaurant.

“The vandalism caused extensive electrical damage to the infrastructure, and a case has been opened with SAPS and is currently under investigation,” said Clayton.

Park Forum vice-chairperson and Parkscape founder Nicky Schmidt said they were concerned about SANParks' slow progress and lack of communication regarding restoration work, and raised this with SANParks as a point of concern.

“We sincerely hope SANParks will provide us with information about their plans to start restoration work on the restaurant and its related infrastructure within the next month, and the Park Forum has tabled this matter, along with several others, for urgent answers,” said Schmidt.

Damage to Rhodes Memorial Restaurant. | Friends of Rhodes Memorial

Friends of Table Mountain chairperson Andy Davies said the vandalism of the iconic restaurant was unfortunate and the disuse of facilities was often seen as an invitation to vandalism, as was seen with the restaurant.

Park Forum chairperson Stephen Floyd said, “Capetonians were justifiably upset with the large fire that spread through this area to UCT. Given this, the people of Cape Town expect a special effort by all stakeholders to get this facility fixed and trading at the first opportunity.”

Clayton said the rebuilding of the restaurant was delayed as a result of discussions with the Department of Public Works (the custodians of the land) and because it was a heritage site, and all deliberations and decisions on the building needed to be approved by Heritage Western Cape.

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