The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern the terrible state of Gauteng heritage sites as the country celebrates National Heritage Day tomorrow.
Most of the Gauteng heritage sites are in a state of disrepair yet there is money allocated annually for the maintenance of these heritage sites.
The following heritage sites are a disgrace and an insult to our heritage:
- Solomon Mahlangu Square: a bronze statue of the late struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu mounted on a large pedestal in the centre of a circular paved area is in a dreadful state. The decorative square plaques at the base of the statue have been removed. The surrounding fences have been stripped and litter is scattered everywhere. A stench of urine and human faeces hangs over the site. All in all, the monument is in a state of utter dilapidation, disrepair, and degradation.
- Mamelodi Rondavels: the iconic Mamelodi Rondavels and the Heritage Centre in Mamelodi West D6 section is a miserable sight. It was burnt down in 2019 and was never restored; instead, it was allowed to fall into further ruin. The 1940s thatch-roofed rondavels were once a college where Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was schooled.
- Madiba Alexandra House: The former international icon, Nelson Mandela’s house in Alexandra, a heritage site which the Gauteng Provincial Government promised to convert into a museum has been abandoned and left to deteriorate.
- Magaliesberg’s picturesque landscape: the picturesque landscape of the Magaliesberg mountains in Hartbeespoort has been ravaged by illegal loggers who are cutting down trees in the protected biosphere.
- Rotunda building: the historic Rotunda building in Braamfontein has been vandalised and the roof is being removed bit by bit.
- Cradle of Humankind: there is pollution in the rivers flowing through the Cradle of Humankind, and Mogale City’s inaction is a risk to the environment, a health hazard and affects the cultural status of the area. The archaeological and palaeontological resources of the site have been listed as one of 53 sites around the world that are in danger of losing their status, according to Unesco.
- Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre: is still not fully operational despite being completed in November 2015. This facility is plagued by numerous problems which includes the following: structural defects as a result of poor workmanship; sewer blockages; broken windows and air-conditioners not functioning.
- Women’s Living Museum in Pretoria: this facility remains non-operational, four years after its unveiling.
It is concerning that our heritage sites are in a terrible state despite the that fact that there are millions of rands allocated annually for the maintenance and completion of our heritage sites.
While the country continues to commemorate Heritage Month, there is nothing to celebrate in Gauteng as several facilities worthy of preservation remain a shadow of their former selves.
The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe should be held accountable for the terrible state of our heritage sites.
The DA has tabled questions to MEC Hlophe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain how the heritage site budget allocation is being spent and to determine when last the department conducted an audit on the state of our heritage sites in Gauteng. We request the MEC to conduct this audit as a matter of urgency.