City at risk of losing historic hitching rail

2008-12-04 00:00

A piece of Pietermaritzburg’s history has been damaged and unless something is done soon, it could be lost completely.

Outside the old Witness building, now the provincial parliamentary offices on Langalibalele Street, stands a recently damaged cast iron hitching rail for horses.

According to Ros Devereux, head of the built environment section of Amafa Heritage KZN: “It would appear that a vehicle has rammed it and snapped one upright post. It is in danger of being stolen …”

The hitching rail is on municipal property, so it is reportedly up to the Msunduzi Municipality to decide what to do with it.

Devereux said the rail is regarded as a protected structure because it is more than 60 years old.

It needs to be reinforced and protected somehow or moved somewhere suitable for safe-keeping, for example, to Macrorie House Museum.

“This would require an application to Amafa for permission to move it. Such an application would need to include a site plan of where it is to be moved to and details of how it will be removed and re-erected.”

Witness editor John Conyngham said: “The hitching post forms part of the history of the city, so it should be preserved. Because it was directly outside the Witness premises before the newspaper relocated to Willowton, it has long been associated with the paper.

"Should the municipality have no plans to secure the hitching post, and should no other location for it be considered, The Witness is willing to play a role in moving it to our new premises where it will be repaired and installed with a plaque recording its historical significance. Time is critical in this matter because of the danger of losing this piece of history to scrap-metal thieves.”

The Witness tried for two days to find out from the municipality what it intends to do with the historic hitching rail, but could get no response.

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