The money destined for the Red Location Museum, which has been closed for the past 19 months, was allocated on the off chance that the community will allow the city to reopen it.
The municipality is also paying R300,000 a month to museum staff, who do not have access to the museum because the community has prevented them from going to work. Instead they get together at a facility in Njekisa Road, New Brighton, where they are given work to do “when it is required.”
The museum, which opened in 2006 and has won countless awards, was described as a tourist magnet that would draw people to the area and act as an economic hub. It houses hundreds of memory boxes containing the life stories of anti-apartheid activists.
This is not the case though, as the museum has not seen a single tourist in almost two years after the community shut it down over a housing dispute, saying they need houses, not museums, and demanding the municipality build RDP homes in the area.
More significantly, since it’s closure, looters have ravaged it, stealing wiring, power sockets, fencing, air-conditioners and palisade fencing. A security guard was also shot and killed at the premises in an alleged botched robbery last year.
Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki told the Herald the budget had already been approved by the city council.
“We have to budget for the Red Location Museum because residents might just decide to open it tomorrow for instance, then it would be a problem if there is no budget,” Mniki said.
The R21-million includes:
- R4-million going to the Red Location Art Gallery for operating and maintaining the facility;
- R8-million for the digital library;
- R1-million for the re-curation of the museum; and
- R8-million for a Rivonia trial sculpture.
The Herald reported that there was some hope last year when the municipality acceded to the residents’ demands and R32-million was approved for 288 new houses. Construction of three “show houses” has started.
But Red Location steering committee member Mxolisi Nduvane told the paper the new show houses would not mean the opening of the museum anytime soon.
“We are still waiting for the delivery of building material. We have stopped listening to empty promises.”
Nduvane said the committee also wanted Red Location residents employed at the museum.
Photo by commons.wikimedia.org/Joziboy