Building remains vacant

2015-08-04 10:47
The old Supreme court on College Road was renovated at a cost of R12?million for the Department of Correctional Services to use, but it remains vacant.

The old Supreme court on College Road was renovated at a cost of R12?million for the Department of Correctional Services to use, but it remains vacant. (Jonathan Burton)

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A YEAR after the Supreme Court building on College Road was renovated at a cost of R12 million for the provincial Correctional Services Department, it remains vacant, leading to fears it will fall back into a state of disrepair.

The Public Works Department renovated the court to be used as the Correctional Services Regional Commissioner’s offices. However, the move has not materialised.

The court has a history of political trials, among them the 1985 trial of several political activists including Archie Gumede, an ANC and UDF leader, and other activists including Skhumbuzo Ngwenya.

It was also the site of a bomb explosion on April 21, 1983, when a guard at the Old Supreme Court kicked a wired black box and was injured when what police described as a Soviet TG50 naval demolition mine exploded.

A government official said the building should be a historical site because of its background.

“It is one of the few buildings in Pietermaritzburg with historic architecture as it has red bricks.”

The Witness visited the building recently.

While it seems to have been renovated with new paving and a new perimeter fence, the gates were locked and there was no security guard visible on site.

It did not look like it was regularly maintained.

A concerned Pietermaritzburg resident raised concerns about the vacant state of the building.

“I believe that Correctional Services was going to move to the building. The garden was cleaned and a new fence was erected.

“Now a year later the building is still vacant, and weeds are taking over …” he said.

Thulani Mdluli of Correctional Services confirmed that his department was to make use of the building, but said that the relocation would not happen in “an instant”.

“Public Works has refurbished only the structure, not the technicalities inside the offices; that is our responsibility. The regional office, which handles the budget, is finalising all technical issues. Once this is done, nothing will hinder our use of that structure,” he said.

Thami Mchunu, spokesperson for Public Works, said the renovations had cost R12 811 923.

He said the project was completed and handed over to Correctional Services in November 2013

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