Vlakplaas to become national heritage site

Vlakplaas and the first church of the Nama people in the country are to be declared heritage sites, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) said on Thursday.

Chief executive Phakamani Buthelezi said the declaration of these sites formed part of the agency’s five-year strategic plan. He was addressing the media at the Johannesburg Press Club.

Vlakplaas was a farm used by the state for murder and torture under apartheid.

The plan will also include the declaration of underwater sites such as pre-colonial, stone-walled fish traps along the south coast between Cape Agulhas and Mossel Bay.

“These traps represent some of the oldest known working technology in Southern Africa,” Buthelezi said.

As part of the strategic plan, SAHRA has started developing ties with The Netherlands, hoping to initiate underwater “shared heritage” programmes.

A joint initiative with the United Kingdom will include the protection and management of the Mendi wreck site.

“The Mendi shipwreck is a very important [site] ... You had a large number of black people who were prepared to spur their lives in the protection of England.

“It was hoped that once the war was over England as a country would assist the struggle against oppression,” he said.

Other priorities for the agency include the completion of the victims of conflict projects, accelerating transformation and partnering with the South African Police Service and Interpol in protecting heritage objects.

The Science and Technology Department announced on August 16 that Vlakplaas would be turned into a national centre for healing.

This would entail collaboration between traditional healers and practitioners of Western medicine.—Sapa


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