Winnie’s Brandfort house set to come under scrutiny

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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house in the Free State town of Brandfort

Questions as to whether the refurbishment of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house in the Free State town of Brandfort will reach completion this year, are mounting.
Following her death last year, the ANC in the Free State announced that the house, which was planned to be refurbished into a museum years ago, will be completed by the end of 2019.
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 while R2,7 million was re-directed to renovate the Wesleyan church, where the ANC was established, ahead of the centenary celebrations in 2012.
Bulwane said some of the money for this 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.
The initial announcement that the house would become a museum was made in 2005. The delays for the project were largely blamed on the Independent Development Trust (IDT), which managed it, as well as the national Department of Arts and Culture. The department, however, said it was not receiving value for money and being overcharged on professional fees.
The party 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 where community members alleged it became a house for teenagers who smoke illegal substances and where young girls got raped.
The department has, thus far, placed 24-hour security at the house and a fence around it. – Katleho Morapela/OFM News