–> South African shantytown residents have forced the closure of a museum honouring anti-apartheid heroes, accusing the authorities of building “a house for dead people” while they live in squalor. Once a tourist magnet, The Red Location Museum in New Brighton outside the southern city of Port Elizabeth houses hundreds of “memory boxes” containing the life stories of anti-apartheid activists, including the late liberation icon Nelson Mandela.
The modernity of the 22 million rand ($2 million) building, which won several international architectural awards, stands in total contrast to the plastic and corrugated iron structures which serve as houses for the neighbouring community. The museum closed nine months ago in the face of threats by residents to assault visitors and efforts to reopen it have been met with violent protests.
Its website says only that it “is closed due to community protests”, in what is one of the oldest settled black townships of Port Elizabeth. The building has now been stripped by people helping themselves to electrical wiring, water pipes, power sockets,fencing and wooden fittings for their shacks. Like many of the poor around South Africa, the New Brighton residents feel they have not benefited enough from the end of apartheid and the rise to power of Mandela’s African National Congress.
“We raised this issue from the beginning – in 2005 when they started building this museum,” community
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