Frustration at 7-year delay
SEVEN years ago, the KZN Premier’s Office allocated R10 million to erect 1860 monuments and plaques in KwaZulu-Natal to commemorate the arrival of Indian indentured labourers to South Africa and, to date, the project has barely got off the ground.
The only seemingly tangible inroad was a sod-turning ceremony at South Beach, near uShaka Marine World, but that was a year ago.
The submissions by selected artists, on what they envisioned for the R4.8 million monument, were rejected and, as a result, it is literally back to the drawing board.
But still there is no clarity on when the process will reconvene, as the buck is seemingly being passed between the premier’s office, the municipality and the 1860 Organising Committee.
The committee’s Seelan Achary, who worked with the eThekwini Municipality to get the project rolling, said fellow committee members were frustrated.
“We are now seeking a direct meeting with Mayor Zandile Gumede for answers as to why the process is taking so long,” he said.
“The committee rejected the designs of a group of artists last year because they did not properly reflect the indentured labourer.
“With our rejection, we proposed to the municipality that through the media, they call for ideas or designs from the public. But the consultant from the municipality in charge of meting out this task did not do this.”
Businessman Ishwar Ramlutchman, who has privately funded peace statues around the province, said the municipality needed to be open with the committee about the delays. Blame for the long wait, he said, lay squarely at the city’s feet.
Premier Willies Mchunu’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said they were awaiting feedback from the municipality and committee on the finalisation of the structure, while the city attributed the delay to disagreements over the initial designs.
“Some community members did not feel that they accurately captured the essence of the indenture. As a result of this, the project had to be handed back to the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) for authority to change course,” said the head of the city’s communications unit, Tozi Mthethwa.
She said they were awaiting the BAC’s authority to advertise to the wider public.
“The construction of the monument will begin once all processes have been completed. In most cases a monument of this nature takes three to four months to complete.”
Mthethwa confirmed that about R4.8m was allocated for the construction of the monument.
“Part of this amount was used to pay the artists, who have submitted their designs.
“The other costs related to the architects and being captured.”
However, over the years, plaques and monuments |have been placed in Newcastle, Ladysmith, Dundee, Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone and Richards Bay.