Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu has laid charges against the owners of an historic former church in Ixopo that was illegally demolished over the Christmas period.
All built structures more than 60 years old are protected under the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act, 1997, and the SA National Heritage Resources Act, 1999.
A permit must be obtained from Amafa, the provincial heritage body, at least 30 days before any work on such structures is done. Municipal regulations also require a separate application to the relevant local authority for alteration or demolition.
Amafa CEO Barry Marshall said the new owners of the Ixopo Village School site which includes the deconsecrated church demolished this building on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
When this began the municipality’s building inspector informed the owner’s agent that work must be stopped immediately.
This went on, regardless, the following day until the building was reduced to rubble.
“This complex was built by the Wesleyan Church and included a community school,” said Mr Marshall. “ The church was being used as classrooms at the time of its demolition.”
“We believe the church - originally stone but later covered with brick - dates to the closing years of the 19th century. We were alerted to its demolition by a concerned resident of the town. Unfortunately we weren’t able to prevent the demolition but we will ensure those responsible are prosecuted.
“Amafa values the contribution of concerned people in reporting this kind of action as it often enables us to prevent illegal demolitions and loss of the province’s heritage.”
Prosecutions of this kind in KZN and elsewhere have resulted in fines and prison sentences. Reinstatement of the demolished building, forfeiture of the property or a moratorium on development or use for up to 10 years have also been among the penalties.
Further information: Ros Devereux, Amafa, Pietermaritzburg MB, 033 3946543 or 078 1790 711.