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Johannesburg - A request for the graves of former prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd and his assassin Dimitri Tsafendas to be declared national heritage sites was rejected by the National Heritage Council (NHC) on Tuesday.
“As the NHC, we would appeal to anybody interested in heritage to avoid emotional outburst and subjective judgements about what should constitute heritage. Such decisions should be based on policy and principles,” it said in a statement.
On Monday, a letter from ANC Eastern Cape MPL Christian Martins to the NHC was released to the media.
Martins argued in the letter that South Africa's history would be incomplete without Verwoerd, who is referred to as the “architect of apartheid”.
On September 6, 1966, Tsafendas fatally stabbed Verwoerd in the then House of Assembly in Parliament.
“Dimitri Tsafendas and Hendrik Verwoerd arguably changed the course of post-war South African history more than any other, when Tsafendas stabbed to death the 'architect of apartheid',” said Martins.
The NHC on Tuesday described Martins' decision to release his letter to the media as “unfortunate”.
“Firstly, it is important to realise that history and heritage are not the same thing.”
The council said Martins appeared to be unaware that there was very specific legislation which needed to be followed before declaring a national heritage site.