Facelift for Winnie Mandela’s Brandfort home

Published Mar 24, 2019


Johannesburg - The modest Free State property to which late Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was banished in the late 1970s by the apartheid regime is set to finally receive a R4 million facelift.

The project in Brandfort is forging ahead after several years of delays blamed on the change-over of financial systems by the Independent Development Trust (IDT) which managed it. The delays were also attributed to the national Department of Arts and Culture not receiving value for money and being overcharged on professional fees and work stoppages.

The initial announcement that Madikizela-Mandela’s house would become a heritage site was made in 2005. The project was scheduled to be completed by January 2015. But in November 2017, the department told Parliament it expected the refurbishment to be completed within 18 months at a cost of an estimated budget of R2.7m.

Documents seen by Independent Media show the department has set aside R4m for the restoration and construction of the existing monument.

The department’s implementing agent, Tshwane-based Risimati Consulting Engineers and Project Managers, is also looking for a company with a Construction Industry Development Board registration allowing it to complete general building works of up to R4m.

Madikizela-Mandela spent nearly a decade at the house on Mothupi Street in Majwamasoeu Township.

According to the documents, the project will include the restoration of the existing memorial house, clinic and external works as well as the construction of a new internet hub and toilets.

The clinic was established by Madikizela-Mandela but was later bombed by apartheid security forces.

Meanwhile, Risimati Consulting Engineers has replaced the IDT-appointed ArchLive Architects as the principal agent.

It is still unclear when the project, which is dubbed the restoration and additional building works to the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela House Heritage Museum, will be completed.

Risimati Consulting Engineers declined to comment.

In April last year after Madikizela-Mandela’s death, DA Free State leader Patricia Kopane asked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe alleged fraud and misappropriation of the project’s funds.

At the time, Kopane said of the over R1.8m approved for the project, about R600000 had already been paid to the contractor and the architect.

Since 2005, over R11m was budgeted and R3m in expenses incurred by early last year, said Kopane.

Yesterday, Kopane said she was still waiting for a response from the SIU.

She accused the ANC of using the project as an electioneering tool.

”They had so many years to refurbish the house. If you go there, nothing has changed. It’s still the same house, there is just a security guard,” Kopane said.

EFF Free State chairperson Mandisa Makhesini said the party has always wanted the project to be completed and for Madikizela-Mandela to be honoured for her sacrifices in the anti-apartheid Struggle.

Makhesini also demanded that the money that was already spent and wasted on the restoration process of the house and clinic be recovered and for those responsible to be held accountable.

She has further called for those found wanting to be barred from doing business with government.

It is thought that the project never started and that only a perimeter fence was put up.

Masilonyana Local Municipality mayor Steve Koalane promised that the project would be completed before the end of the year if an application to the deeds’ office to change house’s ownership is successful.

Koalane said after Madikizela-Mandela returned to Soweto in 1986 the house was registered under the Plaatjies family but both husband Geelbooi and wife Masabatha Jonas died intestate (without a will).

However, Koalane was confident that the application which was lodged in October last year would succeed as there was no resistance from Plaatjies and Jonas’ daughter.

The municipality will resubmit its application to the deeds’ office by next week and construction resume once ownership is restored to Madikizela-Mandela’s family.

Political Bureau

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