Leopard skin, gold medal stolen from local museum

2014-08-20 00:00

ANOTHER local museum has fallen prey to thieves targeting specific items.

Msunduzi-Voortrekker Museum staff were shocked to find that thieves had carefully removed a gold medal that had been there for 102 years and a leopard skin from their displays.

The theft occurred two weeks ago, but when The Witness yesterday carried a story about the theft of valuable coins from Macrorie House Museum, Msunduzi Museum immediately contacted the newsroom.

According to Elrica Henning, chief research officer at the museum, they discovered “with great shock” that two precious items had been stolen from the museum.

“A leopard skin which was on loan from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and a historical gold medal which has been part of the museum collection since 1912 [were stolen],” she said.

Henning said the medal was part of a collection along with three others manufactured of different metals. “They were specially manufactured by jeweller J. Sullivan in commemoration of the historical event [the battle of Blood River/Ncome] which took place on December 16, 1838 between the Voortrekkers and amaZulu and for the opening of the museum 102 years ago,” said Henning.

She said the thief or thieves came in broad daylight, cleverly entered the locked display cases and closed them up again, moving items inside the cases so no one noticed anything was missing.

Henning said a case has been opened with the police.

“The leopard skin was on display because it is a very important part of the Zulu/African culture as they are worn by kings, but the one that was stolen did not belong to anyone in particular,” she said.

She said it is worth R6 000, but was surprised that anyone would steal it because people need a permit to sell leopard skins. Henning said she had no idea how much the gold medal would be worth. She said it had been part of the museum for 102 years and there were no plans to sell it.

“This is quite disconcerting and we have reported this matter to Interpol,” she said.

Provincial police spokesperson, Colonel Jay Naicker said charges of theft are being investigated.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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