I often take a drive and on occasion a walk through Benoni and the CBD and it always leaves a feeling of utter disgust if I think of what it used to be. The place is so dirty and run down, the area around the Plaza reeks and the dirt lying around is horrendous. What used to be the Waterfall Inn restaurant is a broken/burnt down shell, posters have been plastered around everywhere … oh man it just looks terrible!
Growing up in Benoni
Growing up in Benoni I could never imagine that the beautiful town would ever be in ruins. In the 70’s and 80’s we often walked from Farrarmere to Benoni’s CBD. Either to just hang out in town or catch a movie at the Constantia or Vistarama. Remember having to buy tickets a day before to avoid the ques and the dreaded sold out sign that used to go up at the ticket office. The Benoni Ice Rink was also a favourite of mine, spent many a Saturday at the rink.
In my earlier years, I remember my Mother going to the OK Bazaars in Princess Avenue. This was always exciting as they sold just about everything and toys, I would always get treated with a new toy from the OK. Just a few steps away was the CNA and Checkers if I remember correctly. All our stationary and school books etc used to get bought from “Read and Write” that was on the corner of Voortrekker and Ampthill avenue. Another favourite shop of mine was Happy Hobbies … used to be in heaven when entering the place.
My parents enrolled me at the Benoni Karate Judo Center when I was about 10. Now that was something I enjoyed! Our Sensei was Tony Van Der Laan and he was later joined by Patrick Stevenson. I trained with them until about 1985. I was forced to stop when I hurt my back, not doing Judo or Karate but doing a somersault over my bed. Dont have a clue what I was thinking. My back gave problems up to 1999 when a freak accident involving a ladder sorted out the problem. Up to today I have never had a pain in my back again.
In the 70’s I remember the floats that used to go through town, the excitement and the traffic. Remember the traffic? On a Saturday the Town used to be gridlocked.
The Benoni Carnivals that came once a year was also a highlight. Live music, stalls and the joyrides. The Benoni Plaza had the most beautiful gardens and water fountains. My wife, who was my gal at the time, spent many hours sitting on the grass near the waterfalls. As they say … Life was good :), and now Town is a shit hole.
Crime in Benoni
Crime was virtually non existent, I remember as a young teen walking home from the Constantia after watching a horror movie with my younger cousin at night. Walking down Tom Jones under the railway line towards Farrarmere and being afraid of the ghosts and monsters. Now walking at night is risking your life.
Drug dealers openly selling, prostitutes walking the streets, house break ins, armed robberies, hijackings and the list goes on. Yes sure – we do have our South African Police Service but they have shortages of staff and vehicles and I daresay some corrupt members as well. I have personally witnessed 2 SAPS members being paid to look the other way. There are some fantastic hard working Cops that I have met that are really trying their utmost to keep us safe but at times it seems to be a loosing battle. I think until such time the government wakes up it wont get better. But Leave SA … Never! this is my country of birth.