Pretoria – The Voortrekker Monument is calling for at least 70 000 people to sign a petition to press the Tshwane Metro Council to come up with the necessary solutions to keep the doors open of the commemorative granite structure located on a hilltop.
Designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk, the Voortrekker Monument – raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854 – is a major tourist attraction but lately it has overgrown bushes that pose a security risk.
In the petition, the monument asks that the Tshwane Metro Police and mounted units set up a satellite office on its land free of charge.
In addition, the petition also calls for the immediate upgrade of the boundary fence and regular removal of unwanted bushes and grass outside the boundary lines of the monument for safety reasons.
Commenting on the urgent action required, Voortrekker Monument Communications Manager Gerhard Pretorius said the monument was “now asking for 70 000 people to sign the petition for every rand we had to spend all this year to keep the monuments doors open”.
Pretorius said there were “cardinal upgrades” that the Tshwane Metro Council “must do…, and on the borders of, the Voortrekker Monument, (that) has been rejected for three years”.
He said earlier this year the Voortrekker Monument was without electricity for seven days, (from 20 March to 19 April 2023), due to cable theft, and not load-shedding.
“Since the beginning of the year, due to cable theft, the monument has had to incur more than R70 000 in fuel costs for generators just to keep the doors of the number one tourist destination in the countrys capital open,” lamented Pretorius.
He said the money spent on fuel could have been better used for upgrading and maintenance of the monument.
“Our taxpayers money is not being used fairly and for the right purpose,” said Pretorius adding: “That is why the Voortrekker Monument has now launched a petition to achieve better cooperation with the municipality”.
He said Tshwane Nature Conservation was responsible for the boundary fence, which was last upgraded and replaced more than three years ago.
“Application for this funding has been made to the metro council but has still not been approved,” Pretorius said.
We sit here on a 341-hectare farm. The number one requirement for safety on a farm is good boundary fence.
“If the border wires are not up to standard, as they are not now, then this creates an enormous security risk for everyone who visits the Voortrekker Monument.
From our side, we have already put various security measures in place such as dog patrols on the site, rangers patrolling the nature reserve area, horse patrols patrolling the field as well as the border fence, camera systems and more.
“We just want better cooperation with the metro council, because its about equal treatment where taxpayers money should also help keep our heritage and our people safe.
Pretorius said the securing and protection of infrastructure outside the boundaries of the monument is also an enormous problem that has an impact of thousands of rands.
“They steal power cables just outside our site and then we have to wait for days on end for the electricity to come back on and we have to incur thousands of rand in fuel costs each time,” Pretorius said.
Our municipal bill amounts to more than R250 000 per month, its probably not too much to ask not to just replace the cables every time and walk away.
“You put the present under the Christmas tree for the thug, he just has to come to get it.
“Secure the areas better because then you wont have to replace hundreds of thousands of rand worth of cables every time.