Independent heritage organisations in Potchefstroom in the North West have expressed concerns about the poor preservation of heritage sites in the country.

This comes after a 102-year-old train station in Potchefstroom was gutted by fire. This is the second heritage site in the area to be burnt down in the last three months.

The train station – owned by Transnet – was built in 1918. Its Dutch architectural style attracted many people from both Potchefstroom and further afield.  It was popular among photographers, especially with people who were getting married.

Chairman for Heritage Potchefstroom, Johan Wolfaardt, says the destruction of the building in a fire at the weekend is a loss for the community.

“It’s a building that was a train station that could’ve been used as a vehicle for community upliftment for community development and for skills development and all that. And unfortunately, the sad part is that it’s a heritage building that could’ve been applied to that and that makes it even a bigger loss for the community,” says Wolfaardt.

Provincial Police Spokesperson Adele Myburgh says the cause of the fire has not been established.

“Our specialists from our fire investigative unit will tomorrow go check because they still need to go and determine what was the cause of why the fire started in the first place. Depending on the outcome of the specialists, from there we will take it further and decide if we open a docket for arson or not,” says Myburgh.

The JB Marks Local Municipality has pledged to assist the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to restore the building.

“We need to hear from Prasa if there is any assistance that they need from the Municipality. As it normally happens we need to sit down with them and see how the Municipality can contribute towards the fixing of the structure,” says Municipal spokesperson Jeannette Tshite .

Citizens have also been urged to play their part in preserving heritage sites.

Minister Mthethwa launches Heritage Month in Pretoria: