Cape Town - The wrecking of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) ship ‘Haarlem’ in Table Bay on Sunday 25 March 1647 "can be regarded as the catalyst that created not only Cape Town, but also the roots of current multiracial and multicultural South African society".
This reveal comes from the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education (Aimure) who released an important update in Project Haarlem on Friday.
Dr Bruno Werz is the head archaeologist on the project and has been poring over historical maps and documents from the area since 1989.
58 of the people on board the Haarlem - consisting of Dutchmen, Germans, Frenchmen and other Europeans - were repatriated by accompanying ships soon after the incident, but 62 men were left behind to try and salvage as much of the cargo as was possible.
"They found refuge in a makeshift camp, Fort ‘Zandenburch’, where they lived for about one year. During their stay, the men from ‘Haarlem’ came into contact with indigenous people. Upon returning to the Dutch Republic, they reported favourably of their experiences," Werz said.