SA’s endangered heritage sites under the spotlight



30 August 2016

The Heritage Monitoring Project announces its longlist for the 2016 top 10 most endangered heritage sites in South Africa

In June 2016, the Heritage Monitoring Project (HMP) made a call for South Africans to submit endangered heritage sites. A broad spectrum of submissions were received – from BaTswana iron age ruins, to sites of military conflict, ancestral lands, historic townscapes and buildings, to struggle sites and archaeological and paleontological sites of international significance. These are but some of the submissions that make up the final longlist of South Africa’s most endangered cultural heritage sites.

With close to 50 submissions, the HMP is very encouraged by the response. “Our founding partner, the Heritage Portal, receives constant notices from members of the heritage community expressing concern about neglected sites of significance. With this campaign, we want to identify sites at risk around the country, and get communities and local stakeholders active in finding creative ways to respond to the threats – and hopefully ensure that sites are eventually removed from the endangered list. Sometimes a local church, mosque, cemetery or monument just needs a small amount of support from the private sector or local resident associations to make a big difference”, says Jacques Stoltz, co-founder of the HMP.

The number of submissions made in the first year of the campaign shows that despite perceptions to the contrary, South Africans are deeply concerned about the state of their cultural heritage.

Urbanites seem to be most concerned with the traditionally more urban provinces of Gauteng and the Western Cape dominating the list of submissions made. Gauteng accounts for nearly 50% of all submissions made. As anticipated, most of the sites are structures, buildings, townscapes, and public monuments and memorials. However, significant paleontological and pre-colonial archaeological sites were also submitted. “As the bulk of sites that have statutory protection in terms of our heritage legislation would cover archaeological, palaeontological and manmade structures, this was to be expected. We were, however, expecting more struggle sites given that there are some high profile cases that have recently made the headlines. Having said that we’re pleased to have seen many important industrial heritage sites submitted. All this shows that there’s room to grow the list in years to come”, Stoltz says.

Most of the sites share common threats, such as a lack of maintenance, lack of funding or other resources, mining, development pressure, lack of development and investment, gentrification or simply, official neglect. The list includes publicly owned sites and buildings that, according to Stoltz, raises uncomfortable questions about government’s commitment to upholding heritage legislation and also equally worrying concerns about state asset management.

The longlist names 46 heritage sites across a range of categories. These categories include cultural landscapes, archaeological and palaeontological sites, built heritage, industrial heritage, burial sites, military sites, public open space and even South Africa’s oldest nature reserve.

One of the project partners in this campaign is the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA). According to Len Raymond – HASA chair – “The submissions show that although conservation matters are often secondary for communities, they do appreciate the economic and social value of their local heritage resources”. Raymond gives the example of “a local proposal to renovate an historic bridge to the advantage of a nearby community by physically integrating people with the larger area”. Many of the submissions, he continues, “speak to the valuable role that heritage resources play in local tourism economies – and the disastrous effect when heritage resources are lost”. But most importantly, Raymond says “the submissions show how important it is to have local custodians who don’t just complain but proactively work towards achieving better outcomes, not just for heritage sites but for the community in general. As HASA we work towards a vision of a national network of local heritage organisations that are actively encouraged and supported.”

The longlisted sites will now be put to an independent panel of experts. The panel will debate and make their own decision as to the top ten sites, based on the evidence and information provided to them, and according to set criteria, for example, the importance of the site to local communities and the extent to which the site can be conserved.

The Top 10 most endangered sites will be announced in September, to coincide with Heritage Month.

The campaign was made possible by the support of its partners. “We’ve been particularly grateful for the support we received from City Press and The Heritage Portal, which helped us reach not only the heritage community at large but also a wider, more general audience”, says Stoltz.

The full longlist is available at While there will be an annual call for submissions, members of the public can continue to submit sites on the Heritage Portal as part of the ongoing identification and monitoring of at risk cultural heritage resources.


The 2016 Heritage Monitoring Project longlist of submissions made


amaMpondo Cultural Heritage Landscape, Eastern Cape

BaTswana Kraal Ruins, Klipriviersberg, Gauteng

Buffelsjachtsrivier Bridge, Overberg, Western Cape

Caledonian Stadium, Arcadia, Tshwane, Gauteng

Canteen Kopje, Barkly West, Northern Cape

Central Mill Rimers Creek, Barberton, Mpumalanga

City Bowl and surrounding areas, Cape Town, Western Cape

Coronation Park, Mogale City, Gauteng

Dingaan’s grave, Hlatikulu Forest, KwaZulu-Natal

East Fort, Hout Bay, Western Cape

Elandskop, Petrus Steyn, Free State

Frans Hoenig House, Modderfontein, Gauteng

George Harrison Park, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

Horwoods Farm Homestead, Edenvale, Gauteng

Kroonstad Town Hall, Kroonstad, Free State

Marshall Street Barracks, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Cullinan Mine Workers Compound, Cullinan, Gauteng

Newmarket stables, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Old Post Office complex, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Original Gates Barnato Park, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Orlando Sports Field, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Pageview, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Old Park Station structure, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Pilgrims Rest Reduction Works, Pilgrims Rest, Mpumalanga

Pilgrims Rest town, Pilgrims Rest, Mpumalanga

Post Retief, Winterberg, Eastern Cape

Rissik Street Post Office, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Royal Natal National Park Hotel, KwaZulu-Natal

Selborne Hall, Potchefstroom, North West Province

Seweweekspoort, Western Cape

Stump Memorial, Doornkop, Gauteng

The Mechau Street Chimney, Cape Town, Western Cape

The Village of York cemetery, York, KwaZulu-Natal

Three Castles Building, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Thyspunt, Eastern Cape

Timbershed, Plettenberg Bay, Eastern Cape

Trades Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Victoria Bridge, Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape

Victoria House, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Vlakfontein Memorial, Doornkop, Gauteng

Vlakkeland Farm, Paarl, Western Cape

Western Cape Blockhouses, Western Cape

Westfort village, City of Tshwane, Gauteng

Wilhelmi Stables, Sandton, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Witkop Blockhouse, Midvaal, Gauteng




Note to Editors


For media enquiries or information contact:

Jacques Stoltz

The Heritage Monitoring Project

083 455 9688


A select number of images by photographer Mark Straw are available on request royalty free as long as the photographer is credited and acknowledged. Email Jacques for assistance.


About the campaign

This will be an annual campaign to identify and raise awareness of cultural heritage sites that are at significant risk through natural or manmade forces.

The process is simple. Each year the Heritage Monitoring Project, and its partners the Heritage Portal and the Heritage Association of South Africa, will be calling on the heritage community – as well as the general public – to submit sites that are endangered and at risk either through natural or manmade forces or a general lack of protection.

Sites of cultural significance that are within the territorial borders of the Republic of South Africa may be submitted for consideration. Sites may range from cultural landscapes to individual buildings or structures, to groups of structures, public monuments or memorials, open spaces, archaeological sites, palaeontological sites, significant or rare geological sites or similar.

A panel of specialists will be tasked with reviewing all submissions and compiling the final short list. Where necessary the panel will also consult with external conservation bodies or subject specialists.

Each year the top ten sites as selected by the panel will be announced.

The panel will assess each site against a set of criteria:

  • The significance or importance of the site (most importantly to local communities)
  • The urgency and extent of risks or threats
  • Feasibility of finding a solution or the feasibility of a proposed solution
  • Existence of a local organisation that could help save the site with the necessary support
  • A clear mechanism through which the general public can provide support

In short, the HMP is not only looking for threatened sites but also sites that may be saved with the necessary support. Furthermore, it must be emphasised that sites of national significance will not necessarily take precedence over sites of local significance.


About the Heritage Monitoring Project

The Heritage Monitoring Project (HMP) is a civil society initiative to monitor and report on heritage law reform and enforcement, monitoring and evaluation. The HMP provides an independent voice for tracking progress of the realisation of heritage and cultural rights in South Africa.  Our mission is to strengthen transparency, accountability and responsible custodianship across the heritage sector. We do so in collaboration with heritage bodies working across a wide range of disciplines.

Contact details above.


About the Heritage Portal

The Heritage Portal is a news and information platform for the South African Heritage Sector. It is a volunteer driven initiative that relies on content contributions from members of the heritage community.


About the Heritage Association of South Africa

The Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) is an umbrella organisation dedicated to conserving the national Estate (as defined in the National Heritage Resources Act).


Comments are closed.