Windhoek, 20 January 2021 – Fort Namutoni was declared a national heritage site on 15 February 1950 by the then Historical Monuments Commission of South West Africa (HMC). The HMC is the National Monuments Council’s predecessor, which later became the National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHC) in an independent Namibia in 2004.
The protection and preservation of Namibia’s national heritage resources, and its listing on the National Heritage Register, is an important national assignment. Thus, the National Heritage Council of Namibia and Namibia Wildlife Resorts Limited (NWR), as the responsible managing authority of Fort Namutoni, strongly recommits that Fort Namutoni, and all other heritage sites, maintain their heritage significance through annual condition assessment exercises and periodically address identified areas of concern as required.
In preparation for the Etosha National Park Centenary celebrations in 2007, renovation works were carried out at various NWR facilities, including Namutoni Resort. The works done at Namutoni Resort included alterations and renovations to the Namutoni Fort after permission was granted by the NHC. In particular, the Fort was transformed into a one-stop-shop for all client activities, such as shops, bar, restaurant and curio shops. However, these changes were not positively received by the market and, as a result, numerous complaints from the clients and the public were received. The Fort was then closed to the public in 2013, and all client services were moved out to the current resort restaurant and shop areas. The rationale was to restore the Fort to the previous state before 2007 in line with customer demands. However, due to budgetary constraints, NWR could not execute the envisioned plan of restoring the Fort. Thus, the Fort was closed off from public access until a time these renovations could take place.
At the end of last year, in December 2020, photos circulated on social media depicting the purported condition of the Namutoni fort. Upon physical inspection, it came to light that only a few rooms were not in good condition. It also came to light that, even though the rooms in the Fort was inaccessible to the general public, forced entry was made to gain access to the rooms, especially the rooms from which photos were taken and circulated. Constructive feedback and criticism are valuable. However, criticism with malice, intended to destroy or achieve a specific plan cannot be accommodated because it can result in unintended consequences such as destroying that which is dear to all of us, namely, the country’s national assets treasures.