Boon for SA history

Posted On Friday, 08 November 2002 10:01 Published by
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Harmony Gold chairman Adam Fleming, a UK citizen, has donated R10m of his personal wealth to the establishment of the Liliesleaf heritage and tourism venue.
By Sven Lnsche

Harmony Gold chairman Adam Fleming, a UK citizen, has donated R10m of his personal wealth to the establishment of the Liliesleaf heritage and tourism venue.

Its a further step in ambitious plans by the Liliesleaf Trust to establish a R70m historical centre, as well as a hotel and conference venue.

The SA Communist Party bought the Liliesleaf smallholding in Johannesburgs Rivonia suburb in 1961. It served as the operations centre of the ANCs armed wing, MK, until July 11 1963, when the security police swooped on the farm and arrested the leadership of MK.

Liliesleaf has become synonymous with the armed struggle and, over the past year, the Liliesleaf Trust has bought up a number of suburban houses that had been developed on the land.

Fleming, who is one of the trustees, provided the funding to allow the trust to buy the original farmhouse and two adjacent properties.

These properties are home to two thatched cottages; one housed Radio Freedom and the other was the home of former president Nelson Mandela for two years before his arrest in 1963. Then, Mandela masqueraded as Liliesleafs gardener and cook, David Motsamayi.

Nicholas Wolpe, convener of the trust and son of Harold Wolpe, one of the original SACP members involved in buying Liliesleaf in the 1960s, has an ambitious vision for the property. We want to return the house and the outbuildings to their original state and create an interactive museum and research centre.'

On the surrounding properties, the trust wants to build a hotel and conference centre, whose income will be used to fund the heritage site. We want to build a retreat similar to Camp David in the US ' says Wolpe. In addition, he wants to establish a leadership institute at the centre.

The project will require a further R70m R10m for additional land acquisitions, R10m for the establishment of the historical centre and R50m for the hotel and conference facilities.

Though Wolpe has lined up an international hotel group to help fund and manage Camp David', he is frustrated by the lack of local corporate support .

So far, we have had minimal interest from corporate SA ,' he says.

Wolpe is confident, though, that the project will get the go-ahead. We have until July next year to raise the necessary donor funding .'

Liliesleaf is in the process of being declared a legacy project, which would give it access to funding from the department of arts & culture.

While the development plans are being finalised, the original farmhouse is operating as a luxury guesthouse and conference venue, and already offers historical tours.

Other Liliesleaf trustees include ANC treasurer Mendi Msimang and SANDF general Andrew Masondo.

Financial Mail


Publisher: Financial Mail
Source: Financial Mail

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