Iconic Eyethu Cinema won't be demolished for now, says government

Eyethu was a prime entertainment venue in the 1970s and 80s when black people were restricted from 'white' cinemas in the Joburg CBD, where the only cinemas were at the time. It now, however, stands empty and derelict with little to no activity inside it.

Eyethu Cinema. Picture: Google Maps.

JOHANNESBURG - The iconic Eyethu Cinema in Mofolo, Soweto, will stay standing - for now.

Reports of the impending demolition of the decades-old beacon of black arts and culture heritage emerged over the weekend, but the Gauteng Department of Arts and Culture told Eyewitness News that no approval had been granted.

The department said it had noted the reports, but that an application along with a Heritage Impact study had been received through its statutory body, the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority of Gauteng (PHRA-G); however, due to the complexity of the matter which among other things, included outstanding information and details required, the matter was still under review in terms of Section 38 of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999.

Eyethu was a prime entertainment venue in the 1970s and 80s when black people were restricted from "white" cinemas in the Joburg CBD, where the only cinemas were at the time.

It now, however, stands empty and derelict with little to no activity inside it.

Events such as the Abantu Book Festival have been held there in recent years.

"According to the Heritage Act, approval by a heritage authority is required for the demolition, improvement or otherwise of a structure that has any heritage significance including the ones over 60 years that will be impacted upon by any development," the department said.

"PHRA-G finds Eyethu Cinema a significant heritage, cultural and social site with possibilities of restoration, hence the matter is being handled with the required due diligence and sensitivity."

The department said that no process would happen without public consultations.

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