Will Winnie’s house finally become a museum?

Neo Ntomane and Mamello Mokgeole are hopeful that this time the project will actually be completed, and that the house will funtion as a national museum. PHOTO: SEITHATI SEMENOKANE

Residents of Majwemasweu in Brandfort say they are hopeful that the former home of the struggle icon, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, will finally be completed as a national museum. This comes after the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Maggie Sotyu and Free State MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mathabo Leeto, visited the national heritage site on Monday, 19 June 2017 to review the current status of the home and review the future plans on turning it into museum.
Madikizela-Mandela was banished to Brandfort by the Apartheid government on 15 May 1977. The house in which she stayed, was later named as a national heritage site and is supposed to be operating as a museum. An original budget of R3 million was allocated to the project, which only received R1.8 million.
Mamello Mokgoele (24) said when the contractors put up the construction board outside the home, they were excited to see a development in their hometown. “We were excited, especially us as the youth. Brandfort is just a town people drive past, but when we saw contractors coming we knew that this would mean new opportunities for us. Some of us were even hired to start with the foundations of the museum, but then the contractor vanished,” said Mokgoele.
The contractor was handed the project on 11 November 2013, but stopped working on the project in August 2014, stating that this was due to disagreement on payment rates with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
Neo Ntomane (22) said what the heritage site has become, is a shame. Young people misuse the area. “It’s really sad. When young people come from the taverns they slip into the house and have sex here. And during the day you’ll sometimes find youngsters smoking dagga in groups, some even using it as a place to hide their stolen items,” added Ntomane.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said although the police are trying to keep watch over the area, as parents they often worry about the safety of their children, especially as they are in danger of coming into contact with the youngsters who have made the heritage site their preferred smoking spot. She added that she is hopeful that now that government officials have seen the home’s condition, they will work quickly to make it a place to be proud of once again.
During their visit Sotyu and Leeto urged the residents of Majwemasewu to take pride in the history of the home, and to ensure that the younger generations know its significance. They also reiterated that the residents need to make sure that they preserve the site, and ensure that criminal activities do not take place in such a sacred area. The first thing they will do is fence the yard, before commencing with the rest of the renovations. – Seithati Semenokane