A REPORT ON A HERITAGE IMPACT ASSESSMENT FOR THE ALTERATIONS TO THE LOUW WEPENER MEMORIAL, BETHULIE, FREE STATE PROVINCE
Archaetnos cc was appointed by the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Organisations (FAK) to conduct a heritage impact assessment (HIA) for alterations to the Louw Wepener Monument.
The site is located on Portion 1 of the farm Felicia 457 RD, Bethulie, Kopanong Local Municipality, Free State Province. The memorial lies approximately 6 km north-west of the town of Bethulie.
The proposed alterations include the following:
- Replacing the bust of Louw Wepener with a 3-D cast replica in order to preserve the original art work off site. The material used will be concrete mixed with a hardened substance (concrete usually has a strength of 20mpa, but this will be much stronger, namely 60-90mpa). It will also be sealed with a concrete sealant.
- Information seems to indicate that some of the text on the granite panel of the memorial may be incorrect and the proposal is to rectify this, if needed (see details below).
- It furthermore it is proposed to fix the current fence around the monument.
The land owner is the Voortrekkers, an Afrikaans youth and cultural organization. The site is a declared Heritage site. It was declared under the former National Monuments Act (Act 28 of 1969) and under the new legislation, the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999), it thus is a Grade II heritage resource. Thus it was decided to do a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).
The applicable social consultation has also been done, consisting of site notices and newspaper advertisements. No comments were received.
It is recommended that:
- That the bust of Louw Wepener be removed and preserved at Udolpho as proposed above.
- That it be replaced with a 3-D scanned version on site as per specification provided above.
- That the information on the monument be left as it is in line with current historical information.
- That necessary repairs to the monument be done.
- That a fence similar to the current one be erected around the site as proposed above.
- That the original bust may be preserved at Udolpho (Parys) where it will be on display for the general public. (However, it will be taken to Centurion first in order to do the scanning and create the replica.)
- That the site will be maintained by the community of Bethulie and the FAK will oversee this. This should include placing measurements in place to grant access to visitors when required.
- The contextual information be added to both the monument and the bust at Udolpho to ensure visitors are informed of the exact nature and history of the site and art work.
- That a Cultural Heritage Management Plan be drafted for approval by the Free State PHRA, to ensure the sustainable preservation of the monument. The CMP should include issues like access, security and maintenance.
- That a heritage expert be present on site when any work on the monument is done.
- That a report on the process of removing, scanning and replacement of the bust and other alterations be tabled to both the Free State PHRA and the Burial Grounds and Graves Unit (BGG) of SAHRA.
- It is therefore finally recommended that the HIA be approved by the Provincial Heritage Resources Agency of the Free State as well as the BGG Unit of SAHRA.
 Research should however continue to get clarity in this regard.
Prof. A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.) Accredited member of ASAPA Accredited member of SASCH