The Bo-Kaap civic association is planning legal action against Blok property developer for allegedly traumatising residents protesting against the company. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town’s heritage is under attack.

As property developers cash in, building swanky skyscrapers, municipal rates sky-rocket as the properties surrounding them increase in value.

Long-time residents can ill-afford these exorbitant fees. Who would scoff at a R3 million cash offer for their dilapidated two-bedroom cottage if their pension is R1800, but their rates bill is R950?

And so, people move out of historic areas, from suburbs where the buildings house memories woven into the mortar. This is how heritage dies. We’ve seen it happen in Salt River and Woodstock; it’s happening in Bo-Kaap.

Our heritage is under threat when buildings with significant importance to communities are torn down in the name of development.

This is not unique to the DA and its governance of the city - it has also taken place under ANC governance.

As we report today, Deer Park and its charming cafés are to make way for yet another high-rise development. These establishments have been a part of the fabric of the Vredehoek, Oranjezicht, Devil’s Peak and city bowl communities. The residents are approaching Heritage Western Cape in a bid to stop the development. We urge the City to back them.

There is also a bid by the ANC to have the Two Rivers Urban Park in Observatory and the Bo-Kaap, among others, declared World Heritage sites by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

If the opposition can see the value in protecting our fragile heritage, surely our city elders should see it too?

As Joni Mitchell sang in 1970, “you pave paradise to put up a parking lot”; let’s not bulldoze our heritage, sacrificing it at the altar of quartz counter tops, porcelain tiles, and modern living.

* Lance Witten is the live editor for the Cape Argus.

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