Exclusive: Groot Constantia hit in ‘R50m’ museum heist
The 17th century Manor House and Iziko Museum at Groot Constantia was robbed over the weekend of heritage pieces estimated to be valued at around R50 million .
Chinese porcelain estimated to be worth millions of rand is missing and M24i have established that it is the third similar incident in South Africa recently. Investigators suspect a syndicate, that may have international ties, is targeting the valuable Chinese porcelain.
Sources close to the investigation told M24i that the loss was estimated at R50 million, although Iziko Museums’ staff are mum over the value of the stolen items and details of the theft.
Staff at the scene would not speak yesterday and all inquiries were directed to Susan Glanville-Zini, director of institutional advancement of the group’s museums in Cape Town.
The Groot Constantia Estate, which dates from 1685 when the land was given to the first governor of the then Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, has over the last four centuries collected priceless antiques including furniture, paintings, textiles, ceramics and brass.
The Manor House museum on Groot Constantia is part of the Jonker House complex, which also includes a restaurant, and aims to create an overview of the winery’s beginnings to its present day operations.
The farm remains a working wine farm and is one of Cape Town’s most popular international tourist attractions.
Rooksana Omar, CEO of Iziko Museums, said in an statement to M24i that when staff opened the house on Monday morning it was discovered that certain valuable items from the collection had been stolen.
“The matter has been reported to the SAPS and Iziko Museums is working closely with senior officials from the South African Police Services and a full-scale investigation is currently underway,” she said.
“The theft of heritage objects is an international phenomenon. Museums across the globe are battling an ever increasing number of targeted onslaughts. Iziko Museums proactively seeks to protect and secure its collections from such occurrences. Despite these precautions, our collections still remain vulnerable.
“The Manor House will be closed until further notice. The other facilities at Groot Constantia Wine Estate and in the historic precinct will remain open as usual,” Omar said.