Image of the Malaria Institute in Tzaneen
The Malaria Institute in Tzaneen.

The Malaria Institute in Tzaneen has finally received a facelift. This week the historic facility saw a team of painters attack its boundary walls and entrance gates with paint scrapers and brushes ready to rid the walls of many decades worth of peeling paint and cracked plaster.

The Malaria Institute was established at the turn of the previous century by famous local researcher, Dr Siegfried Annecke, and years after his death was renamed to the Malaria Institute. The facility has seen its fair share of neglect and vandalism through the years as it appeared as
though the Limpopo Health Department had largely forgotten about the importance of continuous maintenance (again, this is evident at the various medical centres and hospitals overseen by the department).

The newly repainted entrance to the Malaria Institute in Voortrekker Road in Tzaneen.

In 2021 Desiree van der Walt, a DA member of parliament and long-time resident of Tzaneen, took it upon herself to employ a group of workers at her own cost, and climbed into the overgrown bushes and taller than life itself grass covering the sidewalk.

Then, in 2023, vandals struck the facility and made off with a bronze wall plaque which was a side profile relief of Dr Annecke’s face. The vandals stole the plaque and the letter “I” off the wall before fleeing into the depths of the night never to be apprehended or brought to book.

We have sent an inquiry to Neil Shikwambane, the spokesperson for the Limpopo Health Department to establish the cost of the project, the reason for it and the scope of work, but at the time of going to print we had not received anything from him.

The workers busy on the outer wall of the Malaria Institute in Tzaneen.

“Whatever the reasoning may be, or however much the project is setting the taxpayers back, we are just happy to see that finally something is being done about the appearance of this once historic building,” said one of the residents living in the area. One cannot help but wonder though.

Could it be coincidence that suddenly, ahead of the coming elections, government infrastructure is being upgraded?