Hindu Temple In Shock as Judge Gives Nod to Development Plan

December 16, 2008

Author: Ivor Markman

Source: The Herald


In a move that has shocked the Hindu community in Port Elizabeth, Judge Bonisile Sandi has ordered the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (PHRA) to issue a permit to Pambili Developments within 10 days for the demolition of the old Low Ah Kee general dealer building in Upper Valley Road.

The issuing of the permit will remove one of Pambili‘s stumbling blocks in its bid to build a nine-storey headquarters right next to the Shri Subramanier Aulayam Hindu Temple.

Congregants were surprised to learn the PHRA did not oppose the court application. They had spoken to the PHRA and were under the impression it would look after their interests.

Internationally renowned South African playwright, Athol Fugard, whose plays set in Valley Road brought him his initial fame in the 1960s, said from his home in San Diego, California: “That‘s an outrage and desecration of a priceless monument and irreplaceable landmark of Port Elizabeth.”

The bid by Pambili – which has been awarded the tender to renovate the nearby old Tramways building – to demolish the old Low Ah Kee store was initially rejected by the PHRA permit committee earlier this year.

Pambili appealed and lost, prompting the company to take the case to the Port Elizabeth High Court in August.

Pambili chief executive Royden Thompson refused to comment.

But temple governing council member Mogan Segadavan said: “We are shocked to hear this because we were told everything was on hold.

“As far as we are concerned, our objection still stands, and as soon as we are officially informed (of the ruling) we will take the next step and pursue the matter with the PHRA council.”