Media Alert: Memorials and Public Monuments
The heritage resource management system in South Africa ensures the promotion of good governance of heritage resources at all spheres of government, being national, provincial and local level. For instance, the gardens, monuments and the Union
Buildings in Pretoria forms part of the declared national heritage site and a permit application was made to the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) to erect the new statue of Nelson Mandela in the gardens of the Union Buildings.
The statues on the Grand Parade and Church Square in Cape Town form part of declared provincial heritage sites. Monuments and memorials that fall within the City of Cape Town, such as the Cenotaph in Adderley Street, but are not situated within the boundaries of declared provincial heritage sites, are protected in terms of section 30 of the National Heritage
Resources Act, 1999. The City of Cape Town has conducted an audit of public monuments and memorials and these are managed in terms of the Heritage Protected Overlay Zone administered by the City through normal land use processes. In certain cases, a special consent would be required for any alteration to or development affecting such a monument or memorial.
ROLE OF HERITAGE RESOURCES, INCLUDING MONUMENTS AND MEMORIALS
Public monuments and memorials are defined as being erected on land belonging to any branch of central, provincial or local government, or which were paid for by public subscription and are situated on land belonging to any private individual. These public monuments and memorials all have cultural significance, including aesthetic, architectural, historical, scientific, social, spiritual, linguistic or technological value and should be considered to be part of the South African national estate that South Africa.
APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY HERITAGE WESTERN CAPE
Over the past five years, HWC has received only one previous application for a permit to remove a public monument or memorial. The application was for the repositioning of the Cenotaph in Cape Town to accommodate the construction of the MyCity bus station in front of the Cape Town station. Permission was granted by HWC and the City of Cape Town has re-erected the memorial lower down in Adderley Street.
The Rhodes statue situated on the campus of the University of Cape Town forms part of the declared provincial heritage site known as the Upper Campus. Section 27((18) of the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999, provides that no person may destroy, damage, deface, excavate, alter, remove from its original position, subdivide or change the planning status of any heritage site without a permit issued by the relevant heritage resources authority, in this case Heritage Western Cape (HWC).
HWC will consider an application for a permit for the permanent removal of the Rhodes statue once the application has formally been submitted. Regulations for an application for a permit require a public consultation process with interested and affected parties that must be completed prior to the submission of the application. Where the site is a declared provincial heritage site, such as the Upper Campus of UCT, the mandated committee of HWC will consider the application.
INTERIM SAFEKEEPING OF THE RHODES STATUE
In the light of concerns for the safety of the statue, an urgent application was made to HWC for the removal and temporary safe-keeping of the Rhodes statue by the University. HWC has issued a permit with conditions, including the appointment of a suitably qualified and experience heritage architect to oversee the removal and storage of the statue until the formal consultation processes can be concluded, a recommendation regarding the future of the statue formulated and a formal application to HWC be submitted within 90 days. HWC has also been advised that safe off-site storage facilities have been arranged by the University for the statue.