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Trek memorial destroyed 'without permission'

Published Nov 2, 2008


By Tshwarelo eseng Mogakane

The mayor of Lekwa, in Standerton, Mpumalanga, Queen Radebe-Khumalo, might have to fork out about R2-million to rebuild a Great Trek memorial that she ordered be destroyed, allegedly without authority.

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The Pretoria high court ruled this week that the municipality must cough up the money to rebuild the monument and pay the legal costs of the applicants in the case against the municipality.

The applicants were Rosier de Ville, a Democratic Alliance member of the Standerton town council, and and civil organisations AfriForum and Action Committee Standerton.

It will cost an estimated R2-million to rebuild the monument.

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But "the town council did not approve the destruction of the tablet in the first place", said De Ville on Friday.

"Therefore, since she acted on her own, she needs to cough up the money from her own pocket. We can't pay for wasteful expenditure," he said.

He said Radebe-Khumalo had failed "countless times" to produce proof that the council had approved the destruction of the monument.

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"Her problem is that I'm a councillor and I sit in council. No such resolution was ever passed," said De Ville.

De Ville said Radebe-Khumalo would be asked to produce her evidence at the next council meeting.

The court order was made after an agreement between the municipality, the Mpumalanga Heritage Resources Agency, and AfriForum and Action Committee Standerton.

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"All the parties agreed that the municipality would rebuild the memorial so that everyone can get on with their life," said Kgomotso Mokgeti, head of heritage in the culture, sport and recreation department.

Mokgeti said the Heritage Resources Agency would monitor the rebuilding to ensure that the pride of the Afrikaner community, whose heritage had been undermined by the mayor's instruction, was fully restored.

Kallie Kriel, the chief executive of AfriForum, said the court had ordered the municipality to pay the litigation costs of the applicants as soon as possible.

Radebe-Khumalo could not be reached for comment: her cellphone was off and the landline phone rang unanswered.

Calvin Ngobeni, the municipal manager, denied that the mayor had failed to produce in court proof of her contention that the council had approved the destruction of the monument.

"That's your own assertion, that there was no resolution. We submitted all documents that the court required," said Ngobeni. He would not explain why the court had ruled in the applicants' favour.

The memorial was a stone tablet erected in 1988 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Great Trek, in which Afrikaners sought to escape British rule in the Cape.

The tablet, about 2m square, bore ox wagon wheel imprints. It was destroyed on April 12 last year. Radebe-Khumalo claimed she acted on a council resolution taken in 2004.

The Pretoria High Court was asked in May last year to order the reinstatement of the memorial on the grounds that there had been inadequate consultation with stakeholders. - African Eye News Service

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