R5.5mil memorial precinct to be opened in Limpopo

Monday, September 21, 2009

Phalaborwa - Work is nearing completion on a R5.5 million memorial precinct that will commemorate past and present Limpopo heroes who shaped the South African landscape.

The Freedom and Memorial Precinct, which is being built in the Namakgale informal settlement in Ba-Phalaborwa, is scheduled to open in October.

"The commemorative precinct will relate to the history of the area and will immortalise the memory of those heroes who fell during the struggle, as well as those who are still alive," said spokesperson for the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality, Elliot Ramachela.

He said the precinct would consist of a museum and contain a collection of names, pictures and autobiographies of people who played a major role in shaping the Ba-Phalaborwa community's political, social and economic history as well as a heroes' grounds featuring a water fountain.

A committee has been researching, consulting and compiling the names of community builders and liberation heroes whose works will be documented.

Norman Mashabane, the late husband of International Relations and Co-Operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, is one of the local struggle heroes whose works are expected to be documented in the museum.

He died in a car accident in October 2007 and was buried in the area.

The memorial precinct is being built on the site that was once known as Freedom Square during the struggle for liberation.

"Community activists and unionists used to meet there to plot the downfall of the apartheid regime," explained Ramachela.

In addition to honouring local heroes, the project forms part of the municipality's efforts to create employment and business opportunities through heritage and tourism.

More than 50 jobs have been created during the construction stage, and when completed, the memorial precinct will boost the local economy and empower small, medium and micro-enterprises.

Thabitha Malatjie, who runs a spaza shop near the memorial precinct, expressed excitement about the new development as it will bring more people to the area.

"I will soon be serving food and drinks here. I am expecting to see many tourists coming to our township. I am very excited," she said.

Ba-Phalaborwa municipality borders the Kruger National Park, and the Phalaborwa gate is one of the busiest entrances to the world-famous reserve