Damage-prone Gugs Seven Monument repaired

2017-06-09 13:13
The Gugulethu Seven Memorial is under constant attack from vandals.

The Gugulethu Seven Memorial is under constant attack from vandals. (SPINDOG MOTSAMAI)

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Mayco member for Area Central Siyabulela Mamkeli has urged residents to protect heritage sites in their communities.

Mamkeli said this after leading a team of City of Cape Town employees to “do repairs to the damaged” Gugulethu Seven Memorial plaque in Steve Biko Road.

“This is a historical site and to have destroyed it brings pain to my heart,” said Mamkeli.

He said there needed to be an educational drive to teach the community about the importance of monuments like these.

“We must raise awareness so that the community can value this place because of its historical importance. It can also boost local tourism,” he said.

Mamkeli said he was “worried that vandals” might strike again after the repairs were finished.

“It’s not ideal to fence this monument because people are supposed to come closer and read about the place’s history,” he said.

The Gugulethu Seven was an anti-apartheid group of men between the ages of 16 and 23 that were shot and killed on 3 March 1986 by members of the South African Police force. The seven men included Mandla Simon Mxinwa, Zanisile Zenith Mjobo, Zola Alfred Swelani, Godfrey Jabulani Miya, Christopher Piet, Themba Mlifi and Zabonke John Kondile.

On 21 March 2005, Human Rights Day in South Africa, a monument was erected in Gugulethu honoring the lives of the Gugulethu Seven.

Meanwhile the South African Heritage Association (SAHRA) has condemned, in the strongest possible terms, any destruction or vandalism of heritage sites in the country.

SAHRA chief executive Veliswa Baduza said: “Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act makes it very clear: No person may vandalise or cause any destruction to heritage sites. If you do, there will be penalties.”

According to the Act, heritage sites could fall under one of the three tiers of jurisdiction: national (SAHRA), provincial (such as Heritage Western Cape), or local. Penalties imposed was the responsibility of the relevant tier.

“This means that if a vandalised statue in PE falls under the metropole, it is their responsibility to provide security and fund the cleaning up,” said Baduza.

Baduza said the problem heritage bodies had encountered was that most of the vandals were faceless.

She said SAHRA did have a special unit which communicated with protection services and research had been done to identify colonial and apartheid era statues around the country which could be under threat and fall under national jurisdiction.

Baduza added government erected statues reflective of indigenous history, referring to the likes of the Gugulethu Seven statue, the Cradock Four, and the recently unveiled statue of Struggle icon Vusumzi Saul Mkhize.

“These statues are erected in the communities these heroes called home. They are with the people,” said Baduza.

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