Mandela’s Houghton House in disrepair

The JHF has been alerted to the dilapidated condition of Nelson Mandela’s Houghton residence, where the great statesman passed away in 2013.

Unfortunately, since 2020, the house has been caught up in a dispute between the trustees of Mandela’s estate and family members. Consequently, it has been left unoccupied and no maintenance has been done on the property – the garden is overgrown, the external wall is leaning, municipal rates are apparently in arrears and the condition of the home’s interior is uncertain. Thankfully, the pavement is being maintained (although it is unclear who has undertaken that task).

While on a recent site visit with the ward councillor and a representative from the Lower Houghton Residents Association, we noticed that several tour groups came past the house to pay their respects. So, there is clearly huge potential for making the site into a museum/coffee shop.

We have noted that the Gauteng Provincial Government is considering using public funds to restore the property. However, as the JHF, we must point out that public funds should not be used to restore a privately-owned residence – especially not when the property in question is caught up in a complicated legal action. After all, there are many publicly-owned heritage sites that are in desperate need of investment.

Furthermore, we cannot support the use of public funds when there is no management plan in place for the property and no guarantee of public access or public benefit.

As such, committing public funds to the house in its current situation feels like a waste of tax-payers’ money since, without a proper usage plan and resolution of the legal dispute, the property will only fall back into dereliction.

We will continue to engage with the various stakeholders so that we can find an effective way forward for this very important heritage site.

UPDATE (27/02/2024): The JHF has just had a very productive discussion with some of the stakeholders and we are pleased to note that the ownership issue seems to be largely resolved. Furthermore, the family has expressed a desire to avoid using public funds and rather partner with private donors to renovate the house, including the creation of a museum space with public access. We welcome these developments and look forward to contributing to the rehabilitation of this important heritage site in any way that we can.

You can see various articles and interviews on this matter below:

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