The four-walled structure which once housed struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during her exile in the Free State lies in tatters – an unfitting monument to the anti-apartheid activist.
In Brandfort – a small town just 60km outside Bloemfontein – lies the remains of a house to which Madikizela-Mandela was banished in 1977. The multimillion-rand project to revamp the structure into a museum to pay homage to her legacy has seemingly failed.
Madikizela-Mandela (81) died on Monday at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. HuffPost visited her former home, where she lived in exile for almost a decade, the next day.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more
Surrounded by a steel mesh fence and barbed wire, the house sits between patches of unkept grass and knee-high weeds. A heap of stones, which a community member said was for further construction on the property, lies unused near the side of the house facing the road.
There is no glass on the windows and no doors. Media reports only a year ago found that the property was a haven for criminals and vagrants – the effects on the building are now clearly visible, even though a guard station has now been erected on the premises.
A few steps from the front door are the ruins of what used to be a clinic and a library. All that remains are a concrete floor and a few pillars holding up a steel-sheeted roof.
Inside, there are black stains where fires have been lit, sunlight passes through holes in the roof, and graffiti stains the walls. The word "sex" is engraved into a door frame.
The house is separated into two units, each of which has three rooms. The wall plaster has mostly broken away, and electricity fittings have been ripped from the walls. In one of the rooms, long pieces of cardboard are set up in the form of a bed. In another, the words "Panda Queen" are chalked onto the wall with a drawing of a little girl holding a stick. On the floor, a pile of empty cooldrink bottles.
The house number, 802, is still painted on the outer wall.
Just inside the gate, a signboard proclaims: "Mrs Winnie Mandela House + Museum". "Heritage restoration + New Museum Facility".
The names of the contractors have been listed below.
Community members told HuffPost that Madikizela-Mandela deserved a more fitting tribute.