to close down EMATSHENI

2015-12-02 06:00
PHOTO:nqobile mtolo eMatsheni beer hall will be closed.

PHOTO:nqobile mtolo eMatsheni beer hall will be closed.

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THE historic eMatsheni beer hall is to shut down.

Msunduzi Municipality of ficials­ have met with police to discuss operational plans for carrying this procedure out.

At a recent economic development portfolio committee, Msunduzi Municipality deputy municipal manager for economic development, Dr Ray Ngcobo said that water and electricity will be disconnected.

He said council will inform eMatsheni­ traders of such changes and informal traders will be allocated new sites.

“We had a high-level meeting with the police and the operation has been planned, and we are informing all the street traders [of this development],” said Ngcobo.

Councillor Judith Lawrence was concerned that there is a shortage of street trading sites for informal traders, but Ngcobo said the issue of identifying a new site is ongoing.

“We want to identify a sizeable piece of land for umuthi (traditional medicine) traders where we can provide shelter and other street infrastructure.

“We had already issued that instruction because most of the informal trading there is with umuthi.

“We are still waiting for response in terms of looking at sizeable piece of land and security.

“It is my view that we have quite a sizeable population that relies on umuthi for medicinal­ herbs and other­ purposes.”

Ngcobo said they will continue to engage with the provincial heritage resources­ authority, Amafa, on the future use of the historic beer hall.

One of the informal sellers outside eMatsheni said that the area is rife with criminal activities, adding that there is a “cocktail of drugs” sold at eMatsheni.

She refused to give her name for fear of victimisation.

“It is a good thing the municipality is going to shut this place down. We have had enough of crime in the area.

However, the public also likes to take matters into their own hands.

“Many thugs have been beaten up by the public because crime was getting out of control.

“We hope the municipality provides us with space in order for us to continue selling,” she said.

Amafa’s Ros Devereux said the eMatsheni beer hall represents a major tangible heritage site that represents the history of Pietermaritzburg.

“Structures that are left represent the struggle,” she said.

A lecturer at the Durban University of Technology’s Department of Architecture, Debbie Whelan, has done research on the eMatsheni beer hall.

She said the beer hall has much opportunity for reuse, has good space and viable potential.

Her 16-page research titled, “The beer hall fracas and contested social infrastructure in Pietermaritzburg in the 20th century”, explains this phenomenon.

Visit our Facebook page for extracts from her research paper.

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