Gauteng takes first bold step to protect heritage

By: Paul Willemburg MPL DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation After a wait of almost 16 years, the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority of Gauteng (PHRAG) is finally taking its first step to becoming a fully autonomous entity. This body is empowered by the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA) of 1999 to identify, conserve and protect heritage sites, buildings and objects in Gauteng. However, the PHRAG has been languishing as a unit within the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, instead of operating as an independent entity as required by the Act. Through constant pressure the DA has learned that the department has finally completed a report on the operating model of the PHRAG, with a business case to follow. The report is damning of the department, stating that it “is overly controlling in matters of decision making and budget administration” – an effective stranglehold on a vital institution. Recommendations were made to follow the model of Heritage Western Cape – an independent entity which is recognised as following best practice in the country. The PHRAG has limped along with minimal funding, and currently only has one heritage architect to undertake a key responsibility in evaluating building plans. At one stage it was dominated by lawyers – a curious state for a heritage body tasked with identifying historical significance and evaluating building plans. Over the past 5 years there have been 16 reported cases of violations of the NHRA in Gauteng, yet only 5 charges were laid, and none of these prosecuted. The DA calls on the MEC to move swiftly forward with the business case for the PHRAG, and establish it as an independent entity with a proper budget. This will empower it to identify and conserve the incredible heritage held in our province, and reverse the illegal destruction and alteration of heritage sites and buildings that has continued for so long. [END] ##################################################################################### Scanned by MailMarshal – M86 Security’s comprehensive email content security solution. Download a free evaluation of MailMarshal at www.m86security.com #####################################################################################