Museum ‘can be sold’

2018-04-11 16:15
The Pietermaritzburg high court has scrapped ‘restrictive clauses’ in Macrorie House Museum’s sale agreement.

The Pietermaritzburg high court has scrapped ‘restrictive clauses’ in Macrorie House Museum’s sale agreement. ( Ian Carbutt)

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The Macrorie House Museum in Jabu Ndlovu Street can now be sold.

This comes after the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday scrapped “restrictive clauses” in the sale agreement the museum  had with non-profit company Stigting Simon van der Stel (Stel).

Andrew Ness, the vice chairperson of the museum’s board of trustees, said in court papers it acquired the properties from Stel in 1992 after an agreement — with the clauses — was concluded.

One was that the buildings used as a museum could not be used for any other purpose, without the written consent of Stel. If the condition was breached, Stel had the right to reacquire the land for R25 000. The amount could be revised by mutual agreement, to take into account renovations, for instance.

Another clause was that the land could not be sold without it being offered to Stel first, for R25 000.

Ness said the museum consists of buildings on three properties. The buildings include the house of Bishop William Macrorie. He was a bishop in the 19th century. The buildings were furnished with various pieces of furniture and other artefacts.

Ness said that the board ran the museum for many years without any problems.

However, it later lost funding. In addition, security at the museum became difficult and expensive to maintain, he said.

Eventually, the board resolved to close the museum and transfer whatever artefacts it could to the Baynesfield Museum on Baynesfield Estate.

It also decided to sell the property on which the museum is situated, and to use the money to help maintain the collection at the Baynesfield Museum.

Ness said because of the restrictive clauses, it tried to contact Stel about wanting to sell. A Google search was carried out and it was established that the Heritage Second Association of SA — a voluntary association — had taken over the functions of Stel.

The board wrote to the association informing it of its plans. It offered Stel, through the association, the right to buy the properties for R774 077.

The association disputed the amount, which the board maintained it had spent on the buildings.

In the meantime, the board was advised to ensure that the association was in fact the successor entitled to Stel. It found out that the conditions of “title” were personal servitudes in favour of only Stel and were not transferable.

The board informed the association and no response was received.

Ness said the board then sent letters to Stel’s postal and physical addresses and no response was received.

Stel has therefore forfeited the rights in terms of the title deed, he added.

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