Ex-detainee, families put forward suggestions on plans for old Sanlam Building
Why would anyone be comfortable living in the building where they were once tortured? This was the question asked by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University social development studies researcher Professor Janet Cherry, who was once a detainee of the notorious old Sanlam Building in Strand Street in Port Elizabeth.
She was responding to plans by the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements to transform the building into a museum and social housing project for the victims and families of those who were detained at the building by apartheid-era police.
The building, where black consciousness leader Steve Biko and others were tortured by then-security police in 1977, is set to be transformed by the end of the year.
“I have been lobbying for this building to be developed for 15 years and I am glad that it is finally happening so we don’t forget,” Cherry said.
“It is on the sixth floor where the torture happened and I suggest that the floor not be lived in,” Cherry said.
“I would not be comfortable with people living where I was tortured.
“Could that floor be kept as a memorial site and preserve its dignity?” Cherry also raised concerns about how social housing would be managed alongside a historical site.
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