GEORGE NEWS - There was some straight talking at a meeting last Wednesday, 10 March, about the proposal to move the three name plaques of the War Memorial from the Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBT) to the cenotaph of the Moth (Memorable Order of Tin Hat) Shell Hole in Loerie Park.
Members of the public were invited to the public meeting which took place at the Moth Shell Hole.
Strong opinions were expressed from behind the Covid-19 masks, with some supporting the move and others wanting to keep the plaques at the GRBT. The GRBT has already indicated before the meeting that they are in favour of the move.
To move the the name plaques, permission must be given by Heritage Western Cape. Monuments may not be changed or destroyed without permission.
Dr Natie de Swardt, of the Simon van der Stel Foundation: Southern Cape and the George Heritage Trust, facilitated the meeting and George Speaker Gerrit Pretorius acted as chairperson. Ward 18 Councillor Donovan Gultig also attended.
Corné Brink, manager and curator of the Garden Route Botanical Garden, explained how the name plaques came to be placed at the GRBT. She said at present the GRBT can't afford the cost of taking care of the monument with the plaques.
It has suffered some vandalism and is falling apart. She outlined some of the benefits of moving it to the Moths' terrain, including that the Moths is a dedicated veterans organisation and that the location is secure.
Dewald Ferreira spoke on behalf of the Moths. He is the Wee Bill of the Eastern Cape province and also the Old Bill of the Garden Route district. He said the Moths are prepared to give the name plaques a safe haven, but cost is a concern.
Some members in the audience asked why the municipality doesn't finance it and whether alternative venues, such as the George Museum, have been considered.
Pretorius supported the idea of placing it at the museum, but said no cost estimation has been made. He undertook to make presentations to the budget steering committee of the George Council.
After listening to the heated debate, Ferreira pointed out that the Moths had been approached by the GRBT, not the other way around, and that they would withdraw if the situation was contentious.
Brink said there are certain procedures that must be followed. An application would be sent to Heritage Western Cape. Formal inputs for the application must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 22 March. Thereafter the decision is in the hands of Heritage Western Cape. "We will do the best for the soldiers," Brink said.
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