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Heritage Inspectorate

Introduction

South Africa has a rich cultural heritage which is largely unprotected, unknown, and undiscovered. Furthermore, many communities residing in those areas that have declared National Heritage Sites are unaware of the intrinsic value of those sites or how to manage and protect them. South African Heritage Resources Agency has been given a mandate by the National Heritage Resources Act, Act No. 25 of 1999, to protect, monitor and, manage the country’s heritage resources, while also providing, guidance to the communities who are reside in those area where there are National Heritage Sites.

Legislation

Section 50 of the South African Heritage Resources Act, Act No 25 of 1999, gives SAHRA a mandate to use the Heritage Inspector to inspect and, monitor the heritage sites that comprise the national estates, and provide advocacy to endure their safeguarding. Where there are contraventions of the act the inspectors will investigate, issue contraventions and, prohibition notices, issue penalties where necessary and refer cases to court for prosecution.

Role of the Inspector

• On the occasion of the first visit to any heritage site in a given year, inspectors will make a full assessment of the state of compliance with heritage legislation, covering all relevant social relations and social protection provisions, and also assessing the condition of the heritage site.

• If the destruction are not evidently serious, and if the inspector has grounds to believe that the damage will be corrected/prevented by a given deadline and be reasonably co-operative in future, advocacy (structured information and advice on the best way of complying) will be the primary means of intervention, together with clear, written instructions on how to comply, and in what time-frame to do so.

• If the inspector decides to prosecute the person, structured advocacy on the reasons for doing so will be given. This will include information on the person legal obligations, on the consequences of continued non-compliance, and on the time-frame for rectification. The reasons for prosecution will be laid down in writing for him or her.

• As far as is reasonably possible, the inspector will also take the amount of damage into consideration when deciding on prosecution. Whilst the law applies to all, the inspectors can be more flexible towards the person, in particular regarding deadlines for compliance with minor violations.

• As far as possible, the inspector will consult with any representatives (person, community, entity) by informing them of any violations of heritage legislation encountered and what further action he/she intends to take. In the event that the inspector detects violations but decides to give advice or information only (always together with written compliance instructions and a time-frame), possibly combined with a written warning (structured advocacy), a follow-up visit no later than one month after the compliance deadline has elapsed, is in principle obligatory, unless “force majeure” prevents it from taking place in time.

• If, on the occasion of a such follow-up visit, the inspector finds that the person, in spite of the previous assurances, has taken no significant steps towards compliance and rectification of the violations noted earlier, the inspector will as a matter of strict policy initiate prosecution measures, again combined with structured advocacy, to inform the person once more of his legal obligations, and of the reasons for now prosecuting. Only in exceptional, clearly justified cases, when the person shows valid reasons and documentary evidence for having had to delay compliance (“force majeure”) will the inspector once more give only structured advocacy, combined with a written warning to comply, and a further, final deadline for doing so.

Role of the Inspector

• On the occasion of the first visit to any heritage site in a given year, inspectors will make a full assessment of the state of compliance with heritage legislation, covering all relevant social relations and social protection provisions, and also assessing the condition of the heritage site.

• If there is no serious negative impact on the heritage resource, and if the inspector has grounds to believe that the damage can be corrected by a given deadline and is assured that the transgressor will be reasonably co-operative in future, advocacy (structured information and advice on the best way of complying) will be the primary means of intervention, together with clear, written instructions on how to comply, and in what time-frame to do so.

• If the inspector decides to prosecute the person, structures advocacy on the reasons for doing so will be given. This will include information on the person’s legal obligations, the consequences of continued non-compliance, and the time-frame for rectification. The reasons for prosecution will be presented in writing to the person.

• As far as is reasonably possible, the inspector will also take the amount of damage into consideration when deciding on the prosecution. Whilst the law applies to all, the inspector can be more flexible towards the person, in particular regarding deadlines for compliance with minor violations.

• As far as possible, the inspector will consult with any representatives (person, community, entity) by informing them of any violations of the heritage legislation encountered and what further action the person intends to take. In the event that the inspector detects violations but decides to give advice or information only (always together with written compliance instructions and a time-frame), possible combined with written warning (structured advocacy), follow up visit no later than one month after compliance deadline has elapsed, is obligatory, unless “force majeure” prevents it from taking place in time.

• If, on the occasion of such follow up visit, the inspector finds that the person, in spite of the previous assurance, has taken no significant steps towards compliance and rectification of the violations noted earlier, the inspector will as a matter of strict policy initiate prosecution measures, again combined with structured advocacy, to inform the person once more of his legal obligations, and reasons for prosecuting. Only in exceptional, clearly justified cases, when the person shows valid reasons and documentary evidence for having had to delay compliance will the inspector once more give only structured advocacy, combined with a written warning to comply, and a further, final deadline for doing so.

Why Protecting National Heritage Site

National Heritage Sites needs protection in order to:

• Safe guard them from destruction, damage, disfigurement, excavation or alteration;
• Regulate the conditions of use of any heritage site or the conditions for any development thereof;
• Regulate the admission of the members of the public to a heritage site, and the fees payable for such admission.
• To provide information and advice on our heritage law and to inform stakeholders about the law.
• To ensure compliance with the NHRA and conduct both re-active (i.e. when dealing with complaints) and pro-active (identify areas of non-compliance and advise on corrective action) inspections to ensure that the law is complied with.

What is the Community Involvement in the  Protection of National Heritage Sites

• Communities are the custodians of the National Heritage Sites in their area and these sites have an intrinsic value and history attached to them.
• Communities know their own, local sites better than the visitors who came and enjoy the site.
• They have a technical know- how of how to manage and conserve the sites.
• They need to safeguard the sites by being the eyes and ears on the ground to assist with the prevention of damage to sites.
• Communities need to report any such damage to SAHRA and the police.
• They need to conduct social consultations; the general public need to participate in the management and protection of the National Heritage Sites.
• They need to educate each other and also be educated by SAHRA on how to manage and protect the sites.
• They need to be involved in the research and documentation of the significant value of the sites.
• They need to promote and disseminate information about the significant value of the sites with SAHRA assistance.