Bringing police history to life

2016-07-12 06:05
 The Muizenberg Police Museum is open for business and the new team of staff are looking to educate the youth. PHOTOs: nicole mccain

The Muizenberg Police Museum is open for business and the new team of staff are looking to educate the youth. PHOTOs: nicole mccain

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The Muizenberg Police Museum has thrown open its doors with a new, energetic team of staff hoping to make history come alive for visitors.

At the helm is Captain Henry Jones, who says the journey leading up to the opening has been a challenging one.

The museum was initially opened in 1982, says Jones, and closed its doors in 2003 due to structural damage to the building.

In 2012, funds were allocated to restore the building and it opened its doors to the public again in May this year.

“There have been great challenges in appointing human resources,” he says, but the recent appointment of Suzette Farmer, who previously ran programmes at Simon’s Town Museum, has swelled the ranks.

“I’ve got one of the most experienced people on the staff,” he says of Farmer. “She has a lot of expertise and I know it will make a big difference to the daily working of the museum.”

The museum is housed in the village’s original library – built in 1910 – Jones says, which was later used as the police station. The building adjacent has also been incorporated into the museum, as it was used as the court after originally being a post office.

“It is the only police museum in the Western Cape and is a satellite of the mother museum in Pretoria,” he says.

Displays of notorious criminal cases and an old charge office are some of the attractions. However, the museum does brag with some of its own, special history.

One of these is a stuffed horse named Chester, who was used to train officers and carry out patrols in the days before vehicles, Jones explains.

“The children are fascinated by it!” he says.

There are also the remains of three unidentified bodies found during the renovations. These were buried on the site long before the building was constructed, Jones says. “We have a rich history. We show the past and the way we have moved forward. It’s good to know where we come from in order to not make the same mistakes in the future,” he says.

The museum’s future will see it moving away from just static exhibits with a strong educational programme in place to target learners.

The museum staff will educate learners on the effects of drugs and gangs, showing them the cells and courts they could end up in, if they stray from the law, during mock court cases, Jones says.

“This museum is not as it used to be. It was a dead place. Now it has come alive.”V Entry to the museum is free. The museum is open from 08:00 to 15:30 on weekdays, and by appointment only on weekends.

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