City criticised over state of irreplaceable cannons

2016-11-01 09:41
One of the Krupp 7,7 cm cannons housed behind the Tatham Art Gallery. The gun has been left in ruins.

One of the Krupp 7,7 cm cannons housed behind the Tatham Art Gallery. The gun has been left in ruins. (Ian Carbutt)

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Local historians have fired verbal shots at the Msunduzi Municipality over the poor maintenance of an “irreplaceable” 100-year-old cannon housed in the heart of the city.

The Witness on Monday found the cannon — which is one of two guns placed behind the Tatham Art Gallery, opposite the city hall — in pieces.

The cannon, believed to be about 100 years old, was found with its wheels broken and metal pieces from its shell strewn across the ground.

Local historians yesterday criticised the municipality, saying they are responsible for the cannons’ maintenance.

Honorary life vice-president of the South African Gunners’ Association Ken Gillings said he believes the cannons were captured from the German army during the South-West Africa Campaign — a conquest by forces from the Union of South Africa acting on behalf of the British Imperial Government at the beginning of World War 1.

“The campaign was described as one of the most brilliant endeavours in history and the cannons were brought back by the Springbok soldiers as a trophy. They are an integral part of the country’s history and I am appalled to see them in that condition,” Gillings said.

“A few years ago, the Gunners’ Association offered to remove the cannons but the municipality refused. We could have restored them but now that will be very costly.”

Gillings said the cannons are Krupp 7,7 cm field guns that date back between 1898 and 1907.

Warrant Officer Izabel Gerhardt, from the Natal Carbineers, said the sight of the cannons had saddened her.

“The municipality needs to fence them in so nobody can sit or play on them. We would also be happy to house them for preservation purposes,” she said.

Pietermaritzburg resident Clive Holland, who wrote to The Witness to voice his concerns regarding the state of the cannons, said the guns were being allowed to “crumble through time”.

“Whoever is responsible for the cannons’ maintenance has not been doing their job. Those in charge are incapable,” Holland said. “Somebody must be held responsible.”

Acting Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Siyabonga Hlongwa did not respond to questions from The Witness before print deadline on Monday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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