Tourism and Heritage organisations in Potchefstroom in the North West have accused the JB Marks Local Municipality of neglecting historical sites in the area. They include the President Pretorius Museum and the Freedom Charter Memorial Site in Ikageng township, amongst others.
They say they are not prioritised when funding is allocated and in many instances, capable and skilled staff haven’t been employed to look after these sites.
Chairperson for Heritage Potchefstroom, Johan Wolfaardt, says museums in municipal care do not get the attention they need.
“The challenge of course is that especially museums in municipal care do not get the attention they need. That is why the buildings are collapsing, that’s why the objects are going into pieces. Also, the problem is that there are not skilled people in charge that understand how museums work. They just see it as a tourist attraction so they will usually appoint somebody with a tourist background. That person is not educated enough or skilled enough.”
The municipality has admitted that funds allocated to manage heritage sites are insufficient.
Member of the Mayoral Committee in the JB Marks Local municipality, George Chaka, says the municipality does have a budget allocated to this particular section.
“The municipality has an operational budget allocated for this particular section of this department which is R150 000 for this financial year. Last year, we were able to see that there was an allocation of R250 000. With regards to President Pretorius, there was insurance taken for the President Pretorius museum of which the thatch roof was not part of the package of the insurance.”
JB Marks Local Municipality accused of neglecting historical sites: