The Transvaal Gold Mining Company (TGME) has provided 24/7 security at the Pilgrim’s Rest Caravan Park to halt further devastation through vandalism and theft.
This caravan park on the banks of the crystal clear Blyde River, with its huge trees providing shade for the 300 stands, used to be one of the most popular in the country. It was established in the 1970s after the village was taken over from TGME by the old Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA) as a heritage site and tourist destination.
Previously managed by Overvaal Resorts, the caravan park came under the administration of the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport (DPWRT) in 1994. Hereafter three different businesses managed the caravan park on short leases. The last one withdrew in 2015 after which the DPWRT allowed this public asset to fall into a state of total disrepair.
Over the past three years the caravan park has been a target of theft and vandalism, much of it attributed to Zama-zamas. Electrical cables have been unearthed and roof sheeting and other fittings have been removed from the buildings. Windows have been smashed, as have nearly all the fittings in the ablution blocks. The cost of bringing the caravan park back into operation will be millions of rands.
“The regular rallies and seasonal visitors to the caravan park were a significant source of income for the businesses in town, and thus also for jobs,” Reinders said. “My own business alone has lost thousands in turnover every holiday season. So any development at the caravan park is positive for the town. We hope that the DPWRT will reach an agreement with someone to take it over very soon.”
TGME has now appointed round-the-clock armed guards, with dogs, to stop any further looting. The mine is owned by Theta Gold Mines, a listed Australian Mining Company. They have been involved with planning and development over the past four years and are hoping to resume gold mining in the area by next year.