DA calls on Sol to follow consultative process

By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader:

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality to follow a consultative process in the way forward with the city’s memorials and monuments. We want the municipality to follow the process of dialogue and public participation that is prescribed by the National Heritage Resources Act. And we want the residents of Kimberley to put their views on the table.

You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to remove a statue.

There are legislated processes that need to be followed.

There are currently 191 addresses in Kimberley on the South African Heritage Resource Agency’s list of declared sites. These include provincial heritage sites like the Star of the West and the Honoured Dead Memorial. There are also the national monuments like the McGregor Museum, the Kimberley Africana Library and Sol Plaatje House.

Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act clearly states that a person can only remove a statue from its original position with a permit from the relevant heritage resources authority. You may not make any alterations without permission. If it is a national heritage site, SAHRA first has to consent to the changes. If it is a provincial heritage site, the Northern Cape Heritage Resources Authority has to step in. This could be a baptism of fire for an agency that was only established on the first of April last year.

For example, the fence around the Frances Baard statue was not part of the original design. It was erected as a necessity to keep the memorial safe from vandalism. In 2010, brass fittings were stolen from the Long Cencil gun at the Honoured Dead Memorial. You cannot replace brass from a gun that is more than a century old. The statue of Cecil John Rhodes on his horse was also fenced off out of security concerns.

If the fence around the Frances Baard statue is taken down for the sake of accessibility, the safety of the statue also has to be taken into consideration. Would it be fair for the municipality to incur costs time after time to repair vandalism?

Ultimately, it is not for a company registered in the North West to decide what happens in Kimberley. It is for the residents of Kimberley to decide.

It is our heritage that we must cherish for our children.