Highlands warns of economic devastation in Tembisa if they move from the township

It's raining at the Makhulong stadium ahead of the the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates at Makhulong Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It's raining at the Makhulong stadium ahead of the the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates at Makhulong Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images

Highlands Park director Sinky Mnisi has warned that the local economy in Tembisa could be left devastated if they carry out their threat to move the premiership club out of the East Rand township.

Highlands issued an ultimatum to the Ekurhuleni Municipality this week to provide financial support to the club or face the possibility of the side moving out of Tembisa.

Mnisi said they have spent the last five years engaging with the municipality without success. He went as far as accusing mayor Mzwandile Masina and other officials of an unwillingness to support the team.

Highlands use the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa as their home ground and among their list of demands‚ they want the facility to be upgraded to a 10‚000-seater venue.

The director and shareholder warned that many people could lose jobs and families face the possibility of starving if the club moves out of the township.

“We have changed lives in this community and we are able to put food on people's tables.

"As Highlands Park we don’t want to leave Makhulong‚ this is our home but we feel that we are not wanted here,” said Mnisi.

The Highlands director said they have created employment opportunities for the people of Tembisa.

He added that coach Owen da Gama's charges have played an important role as drivers of social cohesion with several community outreach programmes linked to the side. “We have hired 120 security personnel‚ local people‚ that we took to training and they have now got their (PRISA) clearance certificates‚" he continued.

“They also ended up working for other private security companies – all 120 of them.

“We don’t charge people or vendors who are selling food at the stadium‚ we allow them to come in with their stalls for free.

"We are giving out as a team‚ small as we are‚ 3000 complimentary tickets and 400 of those go to the Municipality.

"You can calculate how much money is that.

"You can see the commitment of this team in terms of empowering the community that we are based in.

"Some of the tickets go to the schools because we are playing our part in trying to fight crime and all sorts of social ills. There is a lot that we are doing.”

Mnisi said the Makhulong Stadium is in “shambles”.

The club’s partners Hatfield VW and title sponsors Jonsson Workwear have all pledged to continue to provide financial support to the team.

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