Disgusting Botanical Garden

The custodians of our National Heritage sites and Tourist Attractions should be criminally charged.

On Tuesday (The Day the Earth Moved for Me) I took some visitors from Austria to the National Botanical Garden, in Pretoria. What an embarrassment!

There are various routes to walk in the “Garden.” We took the “Outer circular walk,” which is roughly 2.5 km. It soon became clear that this “Garden” was badly managed – weeds have invaded the flowerbeds, and termites have stripped away large patches of what were once lush lawns.

Someone has obviously been awarded a tender for the REALLY UGLY little soapstone statues, which have been placed wherever a suitable rock could be found.  Some of them even have their price tags on: R3, 000 to R10, 000.

Someone else has been awarded a tender for putting up a fence, made of wooden slats (or spars), all over the place. Serving no purpose at all.

The dams and waterways are either empty, overgrown with weeds, or quietly rotting away in the sun – while being stirred by tired water pumps.

About halfway through the walk, one of the Austrians wanted to use the toilet. (The previous night’s braaivleis (and copious amounts red wine), were catching up with him, no doubt.) He disappeared into a toilet, and within seconds, came out again – causing me to think that Austrians are exceptionally quick off the mark when it comes to “mik en druk.”

But that was not the case at all.

The toilet was completely dysfunctional and filthy to boot. (I’ve taken some pictures, which I’ll upload.)

Needless to say, we cut the walk short, and the Austrian with the trots, trotted off rather hurriedly to a toilet near the main entrance.

We left the “Garden” the moment the (now relieved) Austrian finished his business on the throne.

But this episode got me thinking:

Shouldn’t the custodians and caretakers of our heritage sites, and tourist attractions, be held criminally responsible and accountable for destroying our heritage? Should we allow them to demolish and tear down the very things that our country holds dear? Should they be paid to destroy our country’s treasures?

From the Kruger Park to Robben Island, every single monument, tourist attraction, and national treasure, has been destroyed, or has been allowed to fall apart by incompetent, uncommitted, overpaid people, who are supposed to manage these sites.

Museums, libraries, zoos, public parks, sports facilities, wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands, you name it – all gone to the dogs.

Do you realise that these national treasures will never be replaced once they are gone? Do you realise that we are leaving our children NOTHING but ruins?

Travel through Europe and Great Britain, and you will find well-maintained historic sites dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Travel through Africa and you will find the remains and ruins of the colonial era.

Travel through South Africa and you will find the remains of what our children would have enjoyed – if we had cared enough to make them proud of their country and its history.

PS  If you know of ANY tourist attraction or heritage site in South Africa that is well managed and maintained, please post a comment and tell us about it. (And please tell us which ones to avoid.)