Minister Meyer on Theft at Manor House, Groot Constantia
Media Statement by Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer
Following the recent burglary at the Manor House at Groot Constantia, I met with the management of the Social History Centre in Cape Town which falls under Iziko Museums, as well as staff at the Manor House at Groot Constantia, the station commissioner of the Diep River Police Station, Colonel Lurwengu, and the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Steven Lewis.
During my visit it became clear that:
- The theft of the porcelain collection highlights the need for improved awareness of security at all our museums.
- The South African Police Service is committed to tracking down the burglars.
- Our cultural heritage is irreplaceable.
I have therefore requested that all provincially aided museums take immediate steps to enhance their security.
I am satisfied that the investigation is being handled professionally and efficiently. The recovery of almost half of the stolen items is a clear indication that the investigating team is determined to bring the perpetrators to book. The support that the police has been getting from the local community has proven to be invaluable and this is sincerely appreciated. I want to encourage the community to continue assisting the police by providing information that could lead to speedy arrests and potentially successful prosecutions.
The stolen items are an important part of the cultural history of the Western Cape and they are irreplaceable. It is sad that, given the nature of the crime, artefacts such as those that were displayed at the Manor House will now have to be brought back into a more secure environment at the Social History Centre in Cape Town, making important artefacts of our cultural heritage far less accessible to visitors to our museums. This is not an ideal situation as it has a potentially negative impact on cultural tourism.