THE Bezuidenhout Valley memorial was vandalised during the festive season.
THE Bezuidenhout Valley memorial was vandalised during the festive season.

Fears for Bez Valley WW1 memorial

By Shaun Smillie Time of article published Jan 29, 2019

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On armistice Day Richard Brooksbank honoured the dead listed on the Bezuidenhout Valley memorial, by cleaning the monument and laying a wreath.

A fortnight ago, while driving to work he was shocked to find the mmorial had been vandalised with red paint, so badly he believes it might be beyond repair.

“Maybe that paint can be taken off, I don’t know, but to me it looks pretty much destroyed, it will never be the same,” he said.

The memorial has been the target of vandals before, but this time the vandalism is different.

Previously damage to the structure had come from vagrants living in the park.

The fountain next to the memorial hasbeen smashed.

“It is malicious, definitely, you don’t deliberately smear paint over the names,” he said.

On November 11, last year on the centenary of the armistice that ended World War 1, Brooksbank sent a message out on Facebook, asking for volunteers to come and help clean the landmark.

A handful of people joined him and his ex-wife, Heather Smail. They cleaned the memorial and on the strike of 11am, laid a wreath at the foot of the monument.

Brooksbank said he preformed the ceremony so as to keep alive the memory of those who had died during what ironically has referred to as the war to nd all wars.

Many of the dead men listed on the memorial, lived in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Troyeville, Kensington and Bez Valley. They came from all walks of life.

The latest incident has renewed calls for the monument to be moved.

Even those who were against the removal of the site, believe this would be the only way to save it.

“On a whole, most memorials in Johannesburg have been well protected, but I don’t know what else to do with the Bez valley memorial, other than move it,” said Flo Bird, chairperson of the Johannesburg Heritage foundation.

“It is frustrating that there is a part of society that doesn’t care about it.”

Eric Itzkin, the head of immoveable heritage at the Joburg City Council, said there were plans to save the memorial.

“There is sentiment in moving the monument to Bezuidenhout Valley Park,” Itzkin said.

“We have got a team of heritage architects who are very capable and who are working on ideas for how this could work. I am hoping we can have drawings and a discussion document in a week or two.”

But Brooksbank believes time is running out.

“It is going to be destroyed in the next couple of months, that I am sure.”

The Saturday Star

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