- Residents in the neighbourhood of the house in Brandfort which used to house Winnie Mandela have decided to take matters into their own hands and clean up the historic site
- The Majwemasweu Township residents were dismayed at the dilapidated state of the house at Phatakahle Section at Brandfort in Free State
- Despite R5.5 million having been allocated to turn House 802 into a museum, the inside of the delapidated building is in a sorry state. Human faeces and many broken windows share space with what is arguably one of the country’s most historic sites
House 802, where late anti-apartheid icon, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was banished to by apartheid authorities in 1977 is probably one of the South Africa's most significant historical sites.
It was here that a heartbroken young Madikizela-Mandela, left without a husband, served out her banishment, in many ways a widow, althought her husband was still very much alive.
Since the death of the icon of the struggle against apartheid on Monday, 2 April, many have made a pilgrimage of sorts to her former home. Briefly.co.za reported during the past week about allegations that had surfaced regarding former Free state Premier, Ace Magashule, and missing money for the Winnie Mandela Museum.
Magashule has denied that millions of rand earmarked for the project had gone missing. He said he did not know what happened to the money because he was MEC for sports at the time, but he admitted no money had been spent on the museum.
READ ALSO: Thabo Mbeki's moving tribute to Ma Winnie
Despite the house having been declared a national heritage site, with plans supposedly to turn it into a museum, little seems to have been done to keep the property in anything even resembling a fit condition.
Those visiting to see for themselves the conditions Madikizela-Mandela was forced to live have found little more than a “fading cesspool of human faeces, broken windows and grey paint peeling off the walls,” as one news report put it.
A sign erected outside says, “Mrs Winnie Mandela House + Museum” and what remains of the clinic Madikizela-Mandela herself once established in the yard had seemingly not been touched since Apartheid police burned it down in the 80s.
Since Wednesday, women and men have gone to work using their own brooms, spades and rakes to clean up the yard which had been covered in weeds and tall grass because the provincial government seemed disinterested in taking the lead. Some of the more dedicated residents even worked overnight despite inclement weather conditions.
In his State of the Nation address five years ago, former president Jacob Zuma had promised to refurbish the home, and turn it into a museum, investing millions in the project. But despite R5.5 million said to have been allocated, the project still has not got off the ground.
The EFF have said they will be holding a memorial service in the community to commemorate the struggles the woman many in the country think of their mother.
This will no doubt lead to even more people visiting the site, which has made residents of the community even more determined that it be a fitting tribute.
“We want a museum so it can be a complete history of her, so we can see for ourselves and read up for ourselves instead of hearing stories from the community. I want to see Mama Winnie’s house being something to be proud of,” said Keneilwe Sethabo, one of those who had sacrificed two days to clean up the yard.
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