AfriForum demands answers regarding 13-year long delay in repairing the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court

AfriForum submitted an application in terms of the the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure today. This application relates to the restoration of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, which was left in ruins in October 2010 after a fire broke out in part of this historic building.

In these applications, AfriForum is now demanding full information regarding the devastating fire and the respective departments’ involvement in the restoration of this building. Despite the fact that a tender for the repair of the court has already been awarded and repair work in terms of the tender agreement was set to start in February 2015 already, no repair or renovation work has yet been done.

According to Charné Mostert, campaign officer at AfriForum, the procedures in the awarding of the tender have been followed, but the fact that the completion of repair work has been delayed for so many years is a cause for serious concern.

Mostert maintains that the constant delays in repairing the court indicates that more than a decade of further decay of the building, years of theft, vandalism and neglect will also now have to be repaired. Meanwhile, essential plumbing and electrical systems are by now potentially non-functional. The government’s prolonged inability to properly address this matter is unacceptable. Therefore, it is imperative to expose the underlying factors contributing to these delays.

AfriForum demands all correspondence from both departments, including memorandums, emails, and other communications regarding the progress of the renovation and any issues affecting it. Impact assessments on how the delays have affected the court’s functionality, feasibility plans and their execution, any complaints or legal actions about the delays, details of all tender processes, project plans and schedules (including changes made over the years), financial records such as budget allocations, expenditures, and audits, post-fire building inspections or assessments, and communication records with contractors and subcontractors involved in the renovation project. This comprehensive request aims to shed light on the long-standing issues surrounding the court’s renovation and restoration.

“In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999), the court, which was built in 1942, is considered as a heritage site of historical importance. The lack of action taken thus far to restore the historical building is entirely unacceptable and bears conspicuous signs of corruption, which is intensified by the lengthy delay in initiating restoration efforts,” concludes Mostert. The unwillingness of the South African government to ensure that the magistrate court undergoes proper restoration further demonstrates how infrastructure neglect has increased under the ANC.

(Photo credit: https://www.xtentia.co.za/portfolio/pretoria-magistrate-court/)

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