Seven Day War monument now a drinking spot

A monument to the victims of the Seven Day War, which broke out on March 25, 1990 in Imbali, Pietermaritzburg, has become a drinking spot.

In 1998, an obelisk was erected in memory of the more than 80 people who died when conflict erupted between the IFP and the ANC in Greater Edendale. Former president Nelson Mandela and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi unveiled the peace monument.

But today, people use it as a place to smoke and drink. It was vandalised only a year after it was renovated, GroundUp reports.

Ward councillor Caiphus Ndawonde said the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund paid for the renovations.

To protect the cenotaph, on which the names of the people who died were transcribed, a gazebo was erected. But the structure has been badly damaged. The concrete perimeter railing has been smashed in places and the ceiling is falling down. Cigarette butts are strewn across the floor.

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A street vendor, who sells sweets and snacks nearby, told GroundUp: "You see youngsters sitting and smoking inside. Some even smoke dagga. Most of them don't know what it means … Pity our young ones are not aware that this is our history."

'Should be treated like a cemetery'

Sbonelo Zondi, who lives nearby, said people arrive in groups when it's weekend.

"They sit inside, smoke and drink … People lost their lives. Some relocated because of the war. This is one history that took away our loved ones … It is very sad," said Zondi.

GroundUp asked two young people, who were smoking at the memorial site, if they knew what it was about.

"I just see a list of names. I don't know what it means. It is clear that it has something to do with [the] IFP and ANC. It's written there," said one.

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Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism Association director Dumisani Mhlongo said the heritage site "should be treated like a cemetery".

Msunduzi municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha added: "We have conducted an audit exercise on tourism heritage sites … A plan is being developed to deal with all the issues that have been raised."

But Ndawonde said: "With the municipality, it takes ages. There are reports and more reports to be filed."

However, he said, the Edendale and Imbali Tourism Organisation had been formed.

"We are trying to raise funds. If all is a success, we will fence the site. We want the vandalism to stop."