Family had no idea they live in a ‘heritage house’

The Lerefolo home. Picture Vicky Abraham

The Lerefolo home. Picture Vicky Abraham

And then the tourists started arriving…

Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality and the SA Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) have listed the family house of a fallen political hero as a heritage site in Ventersdorp, North West, but without allegedly notifying its occupants.

The anti-apartheid hero Cornelius Pitiki Lerofolo’s family said they discovered from international tourists that their family house was a heritage site. A family house planner also warned they could not renovate the house because it was a heritage site. The SAHRA and North West 405 municipality officials confirmed the house had been listed as a heritage site in 2008.

But North West 405 municipality spokesperson Willie Maphosa said the merged municipalities Ventersdorp and Tlokwe did not play any role in the listing process.

“Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality commissioned a firm of consultants to identify sites in the district that could be listed as heritage relics. Unfortunately though, the firm concerned in turn sought and utilised students who were poorly trained in heritage auditing to do the field work. The Lerefolo house was thus listed on the basis of its importance and significance to struggle history of the township. Consequently, the list that was produced from this process was posted on the internet without being properly audited and, in most cases, with inaccurate information,” said Maphosa.

Maphosa said the family was supposed to have been consulted as a point of departure and that a SAHRA form 307 had to be completed with more information derived from working closely with the family.

“All the heritage places originally listed in this regard have to be redone by a heritage or museum professional, also in accordance with auditing standard Grab 103 if it resides under the ownership of our municipality as an asset. The experience of the Lerefolo family is unfortunate,” said Maphosa.

The late Lerefolo and his comrades held political meetings at the house during the apartheid years.

Lerefolo’s sister Deborah Lerefolo said: “We still live here. But the house is old and not in good condition, therefore we wanted to renovate it because, when it rains, it gets flooded.

Deborah Lerefolo at home. Picture Vicky Abraham

Deborah Lerefolo at home. Picture Vicky Abraham

“Tourists are transported here by municipal employees for sightseeing and pictures. They just come without notification and, when we question them, they say it is a heritage site – and are we not aware of that.

“Government did not help us with the burial of our brother in 2010; his children are struggling, but they have turned our home into a heritage site, saying he was a hero. We still live in the same house. Where do they want us to go?” asked Deborah.

North West Provincial Heritage Authority coordinator Mosiane Mothlabane said it was listed under category three for a local heritage listing. He said the hero’s family member Ntoni Lerefolo had been their point of reference.

However, Ntoni said he was not contacted about the listing of their house.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality manager of tourism, sports, arts, culture and heritage Wendy Sokupha said: “In our records and processes the family have the total right to the property as no agreements or commitments have been made by the district. There is no expectation that they should be relocated elsewhere.”

Sokupha added that the only information the district had was the listed sites (as reported to council as a project report in catalogue form).

“Further to the use of the information by any person without the process being finalised as per our project implementation plan can be viewed as unlawful. Members of the community, government or any entity cannot use this information when in our view it has not been gazetted as per phase three of this project. The advice is therefore that members of the community should not allow any person to claim the heritage status of their resource without any show of the relevant Gazette copy,” said Sokupha.

Sokupha said that in the 2011/12 financial year, the district commissioned a survey on the identification of historical and cultural sites within its boundaries.

According to Sokupha, the study was commissioned for the first phase of the scope of three phases.

The first phase was to identify and profile heritage resources in the district, and undertake field research to locate and record heritage resource and tourist attractions.

– vicky@citizen.co.za

 

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