The iconic River Mile race, set to take place next month, has suffered a severe setback with all the historic trophies stolen from the Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics boardroom in Newton Park.
Africa’s oldest annual open water swimming event, hosted at Cannonville on the banks of the Sundays River, will be celebrating its 94th anniversary on February 18 under a dark cloud.
Among the prized trophies were three irreplaceable cups dating back to 1932.
Zsports Events’ Michael Zoetmulder, who has been managing the River Mile for almost 11 years, said the trophies had huge sentimental value.
“We are deeply upset by the loss of such historic items,” he said. “The [value] is priceless. It is impossible to replace items like that.
“These trophies were extremely special given the history of the event and the names on them.”
Zoetmulder said while there was no fund in place to replace them, his family would make a donation.
“Our family is looking at donating a huge commemorative plate for the Men’s and Ladies River Mile race with all the previous race winners’ [names] on them.”
He said in last week’s burglary at the Newton Park Swimming Pool complex, the South Africa Schools water polo trophies, a TV set and parts of a scoreboard system had also been stolen.
SA Schools water polo convener Chris King, who reported the burglary, said the damage amounted to more than R100 000. “It is quite depressing that the trophies have been stolen,” he said.
“We suspect the back door to the boardroom complex must have been left unlocked as no one was seen on the camera footage leaving with a TV.”
King said four of their trophies were missing.
“Two of our silver championship trophies amounted to about R70 000, but they are irreplaceable because of the historical value.
“Some of the River Mile trophies must have amounted to something over R30 000, again irreplaceable.”
King said they had called pawn shops around the city, but to no avail. “Our hope is someone still has them, but we suspect they have been melted down by now.
“If we get them back, it would be such a blessing because none of them can be replaced.”
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans confirmed a case had been opened at the Mount Road police station.