Amafa council fired: was it over damaged cross?

2009-03-05 00:00

Arthur Konigkramer, chairman of Amafa, the provincial heritage body, has been fired by Premier S’bu Ndebele along with the entire Amafa council. As yet no reason for the move has been given.

Approached for comment, Konigkramer said the firing filled him “with immeasurable sadness after a very substantial portion of my life has been devoted to Amafa”.

He added: “I hope that the public will eventually find out what is behind it.” He refused to elaborate and would not comment further.

The new KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act that came into effect in February states that members of the old council will remain in place until a new council has been appointed. Now it seems Amafa has neither a chair nor a council.

There is speculation that the firing is related to the alleged desecration of a monument to Maquamusela Khanyile, the first Zulu Christian martyr, who was killed near Eshowe on March 9, 1877.

A statement issued by the premier’s office on March 3 said that a “high-ranking official from northern KwaZulu-Natal has been directly implicated for the vandalising of this heritage site”.

However, Amafa CEO Barry Marshall says the cross was not vandalised. “It was damaged by the elements and it needs to be replaced with something more durable.”

He said the cross on top of the monument was made of fibreglass. “It was intended to be lit up with a light inside. However there is no power in the district and it was never switched on.

“It was broken and pieces fell off. The mayor of Eshowe said it looked terrible. So it was taken down and stored for safekeeping.”

Marshall says that he hopes to fund its restoration in the next budget period. “I regret this confusion. The cross was removed in good faith and with every intention of restoring it.”

Regarding the firing of Konigkramer and the Amafa council, Marshall said: “I can confirm that their terms have lapsed”.

Logan Maistry, the premier’s spokesman, said that as per the provisions of the new act, the new Amafa council is being constituted.

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