Let’s hope reason prevails

Martin Struthmann, Sandvlei

I became a member of the Botanical Society (BotSoc) three days ago, two days after I turned 65. Their Veld & Flora magazine on coffee tables of friends always reminded me of their existence (“BotSoc members could lose free garden entry,” Bulletin, June 9).

According to BotSoc chairman Bongani Mnisi, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) loses about R8 million to R9 million a year through free entries for BotSoc members, young children and pensioners coming on pensioners’ day. But this is a naive miscalculation. People who enjoy free entry now would simply not come as often as before. And I mean this big time. The botanical gardens would simply not receive revenue from them to make up the perceived financial loss.

Quite a few members of BotSoc would not renew their membership. Would I pay R180 for a single entry for myself and my partner? How often a year would I do this? Cape Town is not without alternatives: Sea Point Promenade, Rondebosch Common, Tokai Forest, the shores of Zandvlei and Fish Hoek Beach.

The Kirstenbosch Tea Room – Fynkos would also feel the pinch of fewer visitors.

Let’s hope reason prevails.

Mary Kleineibst, Frogmore Estate

Sanbi and BotSoc might be shooting themselves in the foot.

The statement that Sanbi is losing up to R14m a year by providing free entry probably assumes that BotSoc members would continue their membership if they were no longer allowed free access, and that they would continue to visit the gardens as often as they currently do.

This is certainly not true in my case, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who became a member specifically to gain access to Kirstenbosch that I could not afford otherwise.

Sanbi should consider how accurate their assumptions are before taking action, as what they lose in attendance could in my opinion easily outweigh what they gain.

Professor Eugene Moll, Kirstenhof

For nearly 110 years there has been a tight partnership between BotSoc and Kirstenbosch in particular. A partnership that seemingly is now being terminated.

If it were not for BotSoc, there would be no Kirstenbosch. This is because the founding document was predicated on obtaining full public support for it. Thus, for the first few years, Kirstenbosch had all expenses paid by the then newly established public body, BotSoc.

Readers should also know that up until the late 1980s, BotSoc contributed about 10% of the annual budget of the gardens. Additionally, there were significant bequests made, through the BotSoc to Kirstenbosch (I remember one, the Mary Mullins bequest, was about R10 million).

Sadly, such a rich history of partnership and support is now to be nullified by a government that has allowed billions, if not trillions of rand, to be looted.