13 November 2012

South Africa: Minister of Arts and Culture Appeals for the Safe Return of Recently Stolen Artworks From the Pretoria Art Museum

press release

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile, strongly condemns the theft of artwork from the Pretoria Art Museum, over the weekend.

"The theft of works by some of South Africa's leading icons, like Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto, is a setback for the nation and visual arts. Artwork in our museums and galleries are not just beautiful images to look at, these creative expressions reflect our rich history and culture. We are all poorer at the loss of these works," said Mashatile.

While authorities are investigating this latest robbery, the Department of Arts and Culture already has measures in place to help prevent the stolen pieces from being sold on the art market, either locally or abroad. South Africa is a signatory to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The Department of Arts and Culture working with the South African Police Services, Interpol and the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) established the National Forum for the Law Enforcement of Heritage Related Matters. The National Forum for the Law Enforcement of Heritage Related Matters (NALEH) is a forum that brings together the arts & culture and law enforcement sectors to fight cultural crime. The NALEH Committee consist of representatives of both the public and private sector with an interest in fighting cultural heritage crime.

"I appeal to the public to work with the police to help track down those responsible for the theft and more importantly to help with the safe return of these precious pieces of art," urged Mashatile.

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