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Pretoria - An estimated R100 million has been set aside for the development of Lilian Ngoyi Square - formerly Strijdom Square - in Pretoria’s CBD.
Half of the funds (R50m) are to be spent in the current financial year (2013/2014), with the rest to be budgeted during the next financial year.
Gauteng’s MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Lebogang Maile, announced at a briefing in Pretoria on Thursday that tenders would soon be invited for the development of the square, which is adjacent to the State Theatre complex and opposite Sammy Marks Square.
Part of the plan is a women’s monument that would be an “iconic building” where young and old women could share ideas.
“This is a huge project which will take about two years to complete,” said Maile. He could not say when the project would get off the ground.
After the Coert Steynberg bust of former prime minister JG Strijdom collapsed into a parking lot below the square in 2001 because of a lack of maintenance, a number of options have been mooted for the square.
Danie de Jager’s sculpted horses, which stood on a plinth on the square, were removed and later installed at the University of Pretoria’s LC de Villiers sports grounds.
Work on one of the latest plans for a market on the square ground to a halt about two years ago.
The metro council resolved in 2007 to establish a cultural market, aimed at tourists, on the square.
Initial plans included the transformation of the State Theatre side into an African restaurant, featuring a park and facilities where patrons could enjoy their food. The sides flanking Helen Joseph Street (Church) and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) Street were to be used for an African market and informal traders.
A new design for the square was unveiled by the member of the mayoral committee responsible for city planning and economic development, Subesh Pillay, last year.
The idea is that it form part of an open-flow pedestrian system that would integrate with Helen Joseph (Church) Street, a section of which is closed to vehicular traffic.
It would have a stage where artists could perform and a monument to honour the women who took part in the anti-pass law march to the Union Buildings on August 9, 1956.
The president of the Inner City Improvement District, Salim Yousuf, said he was surprised that the project had been changed from an informal traders’ market to a square with a women’s memorial.
“We are surprised that the usage (of the square) has changed. At first, it was earmarked for the relocation of the informal traders on the Church mall, but all this has changed,” he said.