On the eastern side of Armscor’s Pretoria property is House Bella Vista, better known as the Erasmus Castle, now in disrepair to the extent it needs extensive refurbishing.
The elegant, old world mansion was built for the Erasmus family and completed in 1904 and is a national monument. It previously housed Armscor’s communications and public relations department and served as headquarters for Roelf Meyer’s SA Defence Review 2012 team – but has reportedly not been used since then.
In 2022 it was reported in Overvaal Musea News as having “fallen into a state of disrepair” with a supporting comment to the effect “it is clear no maintenance has been done for years”.
The Pretoria architect who visited further noted: “The interior is relatively intact and precious artefacts and archaeological finds are stored inside. Some interior walls are showing signs of leaks and areas where paint is peeling – mainly in the staircase”.
He went on: “The house is at a point now where normal maintenance would not make a difference. A serious intervention would be necessary to prevent the structure of the verandas from collapsing. The roof of the tower is stripped and is most probably leaking. Scaffolding is currently holding parts of the house and roofs in place (I doubt that the scaffolding was erected for maintenance purposes). The outbuildings are in a relatively good condition (probably because they were relocated), but the graveyard shows signs of vandalism and neglect.”
In response to a defenceWeb inquiry on tender EFAC/2023/12 for “refurbishment” of the historic building, Armscor said the work was in line with a recommendation by a structural engineer that it “needs to be entirely renovated”.
The tender is in line with Armscor’s “obligation to keep the Erasmus Castle in an acceptable standard as it is a heritage site” according to Liziwe Nkonyana, Senior Manager: Corporate Communication.
However, once refurbishment work is complete, Armscor does not intend using the building as office accommodation.