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Beach Peace Clock still a troubling source

When will the historic timepiece tick again?

This has been the question raised by many over the last two years as the iconic Peace Clock in Beach Road remains dormant. The future of the Clock Tower is also uncertain.

The clock, which has stood tall since it was erected in 1994, will soon be removed when the construction of the section of sea wall commences.

According to Carl Punt, councillor for Ward 83, the City of Cape Town is aware of the clock’s dormancy, but was not planning to spend any money on the clock’s repair at this stage, as it will have to be moved once phase two of the sea wall project commences.

When that will be depends on when funds become available.

“The current budget for Phase 2 has been geared towards more urgent repair work originally planned for Phase 3,” Punt said.

This includes the section between Harlem and Culemborg streets, where the existing sea wall partly washed away during high tide.

Punt could not confirm or deny that the clock will be put back in its rightful place once Phase 2 is completed.

“If the damages are too severe, it will, in my opinion, not be rejuvenated, but that will, however, be determined only in Phase 2.”

The Clock Tower, or Peace Clock as it is often referred to, was a project of the former Strand Rotary Anns.

Strand Rotary Club president Deidré Peterson explained the Rotary International theme for the 1994-’95 Rotary year was “Be A Friend”.

“In South Africa this was pre-election, a time of campaigning for the first free elections in 1994,” she explained. “Strand Beach and its racial rules had been a controversial issue for years, which required addressing.

“In May 1993, in the midst of the pre-elections campaign, Rotary Ann Jacqueline Lester had a strong feeling about time being limited and a great desire for peace in our land. A philanthropist friend of the Strand Rotary Anns, Mavis Mitton, had passed away in 1990, another significant year, and bequeathed a sum of money to the Anns to be used for a deserving cause. The money was invested while consideration was given to a possible project Mavis could be remembered by. A clock tower for all to see on the Strand beachfront with the theme “‘Time for Peace’” was Jacqueline’s vision, one she conveyed to her fellow Strand Rotary Anns, who were enthusiastic about the idea.”

Peterson said the expertise of architect and former Strand Rotarian Danie Pienaar was roped in. He drew up plans at no cost to the Anns and the then Strand Town Council, which was approached, delightfully offered a site for the clock to be erected.

“A resident of Strand, Brian Lezar, designed and made a beautiful peace emblem of a dove for the column using semi-precious stones,” Peterson said. “Messrs Clock Time of Cape Town designed the clock face and installed the mechanism.”

The total cost of the project accumulated to R42 473. The clock was handed to the town council and Strand residents on behalf of the then Strand Rotary Anns in the second week of December 1994 – the same year late President Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first democratically elected president.

“The president was invited to the handover,” said Peterson. “He could not attend, but his office sent two letters of apology.

“This project is not only regarded as a tribute to Mavis, but we believe that it will stand as a reminder to all who pass by of the deep desire of the Strand Rotary Club for peace in our land.”

Peterson further said one of the main reasons the clock is not working is that one of its mechanisms was vandalised.

As a result of the clock’s history, its dormancy has been a grave concern to Rotary members. It has been raised with City officials several times.

“The clock belongs to the municipality, which has the responsibility to maintain it,” Peterson said. “However, we have offered – on more than one occasion – to contribute to the costs of repairing the clock, but with the construction of the new sea wall and promenade the issue of repairing the clock has been put on hold.”

Punt said aside from the clock having to be removed to commence with construction, the ocean weather has also played a part in the clock’s fitful ticking.

He further noted repairs are usually estimated at R25 000, “because the parts have to be imported from Switzerland”.

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