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Winnie’s museum done

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The restored Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort House Museum in Majwemasweu, Brandfort. Behind the house is a newly built structure believed to be part of the museum. Photo: Teboho Setena
The restored Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort House Museum in Majwemasweu, Brandfort. Behind the house is a newly built structure believed to be part of the museum. Photo: Teboho Setena

The Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort House Museum in the Majwemasweu township, Brandfort is complete.

However, this potential tourist attraction stands empty after work to restore the original house and construction of a new structure was completed.

Winnie Mandela, who died in 2018 at the age of 81 years, was banished to the Free State town in May 1977 by the apartheid government to supress political activities.

The work to restore the house and the construction of the new extended structure was completed in November 2019.

The project was undertaken by the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture following an announcement by the minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa.

According to Mthethwa, the house would also serve as a multipurpose centre with WiFi and parking for tourists.

Approximately R4 million was allocated for the restoration and construction.

The completion of the project comes after 12 years during which there was only talk about the restoration.

Work to restore the house that one of the ANC’s iconic woman leaders stayed in, was undertaken after reports of the neglect of the house.

Various sources stated that funds were allocated in 2005 to transform the house in Brandfort into a museum. Instead of restoration, the property was abandoned and fell into a state of ruin.

Numerous reports emerged that the funds went “missing” with no one held accountable.

In 2018, an audit report commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) found that nearly R600 000 had been paid to two contractors, which apparently could not be traced.

The house reportedly forms part of the Independent Development Trust (IDT), legacy and heritage projects. Meanwhile, the house is guarded by security while awaiting official opening by government.

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