By Faith Nyasuguta
The once palatial but later deserted home of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg will get a major facelift.
The home will be christened the Sanctuary Mandela hotel.
Starting August this year, the home based in Houghton, a suburb of Johannesburg (Jozi) will be accessible to members of the public as a residential home and not a museum as it previously was.
The South African government revealed this as it marked the annual Mandela Day celebrations in July.
The major renovation will be overseen by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Motsamayi Tourism Group to ensure the once-glamorous home becomes a luxurious tourist hotel.
The state noted that the Sanctuary Mandela Hotel is set to be a tourism destination with a personal link to the private life of the late Mandela.
The home was deserted by three of Mandela’s grandchildren and the offspring of the late Makgatho Mandela, a son by his first wife Evelyne.
The trio resided here until last year but they left following family conflicts leaving the palatial home unattended for over a year.
“When we found the house, it was completely vandalized, so a lot of the property in it couldn’t be secured, as it had been stolen,” Jerry Mabena, the Motsamayi Tourism Group CEO said in a televised address.
“The renovation and furnishing meant acquisition of artifacts to put in the house to create an inspirational space.”
Mabena added that a huge chunk of the house had to be torn down since it was unsafe for human occupation.
“We named it Sanctuary Mandela because we want it to be a place where one can visit to rekindle their spirit in reflection of Mandela’s life,” he said.
On the price ranges of the luxurious hotel, the cheapest room will go at a rate of Rand 4,000 or $276 per night per head.
The most expensive room will be the presidential suite at the rate of Rand 15,000 or $1,035 per night per head.
So far, the doors to the tourist destination are still closed but Mabena indicates that the hotel’s makeover is almost done.
He added that local residents have accepted the new development and that already, there is foreign interest.