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Thursday Nov 08, 2012

Cape Town's castle needs urgent renovations

The Castle of Good Hope will have a permanent manager for the first time in three years in the hope of saving it from ruin.

Captain Francois Morkel, manager of the Castle of Good Hope, explains to ANC MP Stanley Motimele, chairman of the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans, what maintenance work needs to be done.

The new executive director is expected to oversee badly needed maintenance to leaking roofs, rotting wood and crumbling walls.

"Up to now we have just been doing preventative maintenance to the castle because of money constraints... but appointing a new executive director will treble our surplus to millions," said LieutenantGeneral Justice Nkonyane, chairman of the board.

Parliament's portfolio committee on defence and military veterans visited the Castle, which dates back to 1666, yesterday after hearing concerns about management problems.

"The auditor-general was concerned with the management and we wanted to see the state of the Castle," said the committee chairman, ANC MP Stanley Motimele.

Nkonyane said the board has taken three years to appoint an executive director because it didn't know if it was able to afford the salary.

In February the board appointed Lindsay Madden as the interim executive manager but terminated his contract in April when he clashed with stakeholders, said Nkonyane.

The board plans to appoint a new director before the end of December.

Meanwhile contractors found the Castle is in need of serious maintenance.

"The contractors did an audit and found problems with walls, the woodwork and roofs leaking," said Captain Francois Morkel, who is standing in until an executive director is appointed.

According to him the last time maintenance on that scale was done was 25 years ago.

This year maintenance costs rose by R2 million to R13m when contractors found the Leerdam bastion was collapsing.

"Rats made their nests inside the walls and water crept in.

"All this eroded the wall and almost caused the face of the wall to collapse.

"Luckily we realised this when we started reppointing the stone work," said Morkel.

The Castle will spend another R37 million from mid2013 onwards to restore bastions, ramparts, arsenals, courtyards and moat walls.

"Another save was when we repaired the Kat portico and we found dry rot in the teak pillars that keeps up the balcony," Morkel said.

The Castle welcomed 130 482 visitors in 2011 and collected R2.5 million in ticket sales.

It was able to record a surplus of R893 000 after all the bills were paid.

Owen Jenkins, a tour operator from Roots Africa, said international tourists rarely want to see inside the Castle.

"The last time I took a group to the Castle was six months ago.

"You can see it needs urgent maintenance but it is not as bad as Robben Island," said Jenkins.

Cape Times

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