FS multi-million rand #Ramkraal project remains a dump

Old Ramkraal Prison
The controversial Old Ramkraal Prison in Mangaung in the Free State remains a white elephant. This, as it is left dilapidated with homeless people having turned it into their temporary shelter.

This historic site has over the years drawn much controversy after the provincial government announced its plans to refurbish it into the new Provincial Legislature Complex. The building, declared a heritage site and allocated more than R120 million for refurbishments nearly a decade ago, remains a home for those with no roofs over their heads.

OFM reports that two homeless men who have taken refuge to this building on Tuesday painted a bleak picture of how dilapidated the structure is when the Free State Legislature’s joint Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts and Finance embarked on an oversight visit. Leading the oversight tour, Free State Heritage Council’s Joe Serekoane has expressed concern over the poor state in which this heritage site has been left.

Serekoane has alluded that their calls to have the Public Works Department take responsibility of the building and see to it that the project materialised has for years fallen on deaf ears. He explained that the structure still has a significant historical meaning and that there need to be security to ensure that it is not illegally occupied or vandalised any further.

“This is our second visit with the committee following the first one in 2018, and we are still concerned at the slow progress of refurbishing the building.”

Serekoane said the site is becoming more and more important as some of the material found here are no longer available and he is extremely concerned with the increasing number of illegal occupants.

Serekoane told committee members that their calls to the provincial government for the building to be protected have not materialised as there was a fence erected and 24-hour security place around the building for no longer than two months during the 2018 year.

“This place became vulnerable. So, whoever could come here could take whatever they like with absolutely no protection from anybody else, that is why the place is so dilapidated and is what it is today”.

Responding to OFM News’ questions on the Committee’s plan of action and how they will redress the challenge, Chairperson Vusi Tshabalala, said “we have witnessed the old structure where there used to be a prison of the Apartheid government, our aim is to ensure that we start this process afresh. We are going to meet with the different stakeholders, the departments and the Auditor-General so that we understand and chart a way forward.”

He confirms they are still intending to move the Legislature to the historic site once refurbished but are awaiting a report from Public Works’ team of Engineers.