Still no movement on restoration of Winnie’s house in Brandfort

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The dilapidated house in which Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lived in Brandfort, Free State while under a banning order. Photo: Earl Coetzee

As the world commemorated a year since the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela yesterday, family and friends marked the anniversary of her passing with a wreath-laying ceremony in Johannesburg.

But questions as to whether the refurbishment of her house in Brandfort, Free State, will reach completion this year remain.

Following her death last year, the ANC in the Free State announced that the house was to be refurbished and turned into a museum. It was meant to be completed by the end of this year.

The then provincial ANC interim coordinator, William Bulwane, who is now the deputy chair, refuted allegations that funds earmarked for the project were embezzled.

He said R3 million was allocated for the project and R204,000 was spent on the designs, with R2.7 million redirected to renovate the Wesleyan Church where the ANC was established, ahead of the centenary celebrations in 2012.

Bulwane said some of the money for the project was also used to build the Plaatjie family another house and furnish it after they were told they could no longer live in Mandela’s old house.

Besides a razor wire fence and a wooden guardhouse being erected, there has been little progress on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house in Brandfort since it was first announced it would be converted into a museum in 2005. Photo: Earl Coetzee

The initial announcement that the house would become a museum was made in 2005. The ongoing delays in the project were largely blamed on the Independent Development Trust (IDT).

The ANC in the province has indicated that the national department of arts and culture will continue with the project.

Indications are that an amount of R4 million has been set aside for its completion.

The house drew much controversy over the years, with many accusing the former premier and now ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, of corruption and stealing money that was meant for the project.

Community members alleged that the historic site had, for years, turned into a hub of criminal activities. They alleged it had become a haven for teenagers who smoked illegal substances. Community members also alleged many young girls got raped there.

The department has placed 24-hour security at the house and built a fence around it until such time as renovations can recommence.

Katleho Morapela / OFM News