Arts and Culture partners with French Government to preserve heritage through technology

As part of the Human Right Month build up activities, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa invites members of the media to the will officially handover of the first batch of Rivonia Trial dictabelts audio files to the Department of Arts and Culture.

The handover ceremony by French Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Elisabeth Barbier to the Minister of Arts and Culture, will take place on 17 March 2016 at Pretoria High Court.The Department of Arts and Culture handed over the 591 Rivonia Trial dictabelts for digitisation to the French Embassy on 10 October 2014. The digitisation of the dictabelts or converting them into an electronic format will amongst others support innovative methods of research including restoration and preservation of vulnerable, unique, rare and fragile heritage items or documents.

The Rivonia trial, named after the Johannesburg suburb where 16 leaders of the ANC were arrested, was recorded on dictabelt machines. The dictabelts, flexible vinyl cylinders (totalling 230 hours of audio records), hold the recordings of the Rivonia Trial which took place in Pretoria between October 1963 and June 1964 in the Supreme Court. These recordings offer a unique testimony of those who were involved in South Africa’s history against the apartheid regime.

Discussions were held between South Africa and France to help digitise these audio archives with the aim to make them available to the public again. The official agreement between DAC and L’INSTITUT NATIONAL DE L’AUDIOVISUEL (INA) for the restoration of the dictabelts was signed in December 2013 during the conclusion of the French South African season.

The digitisation agreement of 591 Rivonia Trial dictabelts falls within the framework of an historic cooperation agreement signed between INA and the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture on 20 December 2013 to restore and preserve the audio records of the Rivonia Trial. The handover event will include the signing of a training agreement between DAC (NARSSA) and INA with the object is to train the officials from Arts and Culture to digitise and restore the remaining dictabelts.

The handover ceremony is scheduled as follows:

Date: 17 March 2016
Time: 13h30
Venue: Pretoria High Court, High Court Building, Vermeulen Street

Media RSPVs: Mthuthuzeli Nqumba,, 074 478 7681/ Rethabile Selepe, 072 722 3149
Media enquires: Teresa Magidela, , 060 601 7724

Issued by the Department of Arts and Culture


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