South africa’s ONLINE


SAHRA’s online heritage resource database, and heritage management tool, the South African Heritage Resources Information System (SAHRIS), was developed in 2011 and launched publicly in April 2013. The system was developed on a free, open source platform, Drupal, in compliance with Section 39 of the National Heritage Resources Act, 25 of 1999.

Section 39 stipulates that

(1) For the purposes of the consolidation and co-ordination of information on heritage resources, SAHRA must compile and maintain an inventory of the national estate, which must be in the form of a data base of information on heritage resources which it considers to be worthy of conservation… and for this purpose it must co-ordinate, and may prescribe, national standards for the recording of information by provincial heritage authorities.

The system facilitates this mandate in several ways. Firstly, it acts as a heritage sites repository, recording and archiving all known, recorded heritage sites in the country, be these derived from extant museum and university survey records, or from field researchers conducting Heritage Impact Assessments. Secondly, SAHRIS is a heritage collections management tool. This means the system can store digital copies of repository (i.e. museums, galleries etc) registers of objects and collections, and monitor and manage their conservation, condition and movement. Thirdly, the system manages the process of heritage management as stipulated in the NHRA, by allowing for heritage comments and permits to be applied for by the public, reviewed by heritage officers and commented on or permitted online. Through these functions, the system enables the efficient and coordinated management of our heritage, and maximizes the benefit that can be attained from our heritage resources by appropriate promotion and use of these resources.

The online accessibility of the system makes it freely available to all members of the public, while also opening South African heritage to the world.