Anthony Benadie MPL
DA Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
As part of the DA’s campaign to protect Pilgrim’s Rest from unscrupulous exploitation, the DA today appealed to the MEC for culture, sports and recreation, Ms Sibongile Manana to assist in elevating this historic landmark town from a provincial to national heritage site.
In a letter to the MEC, I explained that the application to have Pilgrim’s Rest declared a national heritage site was submitted to the South African Heritage Resource Agency many years ago, but that the process remains to be completed.
Pilgrim’s Rest’s reclassification to National Heritage status will further promote it as tourist destination, justify its historical value, as well as contribute significantly in protecting a vital part of South Africa and Mpumalanga’s history from opportunistic exploitation and abuse by the Department of Public Works.
In addition, I also requested MEC Manana, as custodian of provincial heritage sites, to exercise her mandate and conduct an inspection of Pilgrim’s Rest, and establish whether the Department of Public Works (as owner) complies to the various legal obligations regarding the maintenance and preservation of such a site. I urged the MEC to issue a restoration order to the Department of Public Works, thereby ensuring that the buildings and facilities in the town remain protected for future generations.
Pilgrim’s Rest, a former National Heritage site, was downgraded to a Provincial Heritage site in 1999, following changes to the legislation governing heritage sites. The battle to have the national heritage status of Pilgrim’s Rest reinstated has been ongoing since then.
The reinstatement of the National Heritage status will contribute significantly to protecting this town, as the compliance regulations surrounding national sites are more extensive and strict than those relating to provincial sites.
The DA and the private sector is doing everything it can to protect Pilgrim’s Rest, and now government has the perfect opportunity to undo some the damage caused in this town, and by doing so will preserve a national asset for our future generations.