Princess Vlei
Princess Vlei

Historically neglected, but new status for Western Cape heritage sites welcomed

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Sep 30, 2020

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Cape Town – While heritage activists have welcomed the announcement of five newly declared Provincial Heritage Sites (PHS), some of these have already suffered severe historical neglect, they said.

The new sites are: Blaauwberg Nature Reserve; Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel; The Gugulethu 7 Memorial in Gugulethu; Langa Pass Office in Langa; and Princess Vlei in Retreat.

Once a site is declared a PHS, it enjoys the highest level of protection in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999.

Plaques or notice boards indicating PHS status will be unveiled at the various sites in due course.

Provincial Cultural Affairs and Sport Department spokesperson Tania Colyn said Heritage Western Cape identified the sites in the Cape Metropole worthy of PHS status.

“The sites identified had to relate to the history of slavery, resistance and liberation history, histories of forced removals, places of spiritual and ritual significance, shrines as well as histories of trade unionism.

“Sites also get nominated by the owners or members of the public and submitted to Heritage Western Cape for approval, such as the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve which was submitted by the City,” Colyn said.

The Princess Vlei Forum (PVF) said since its formation in 2012, concerned communities had been lobbying to raise awareness of the cultural, social and ecological value of the Greater Princess Vlei Conservation Area.

“Gaining heritage status represents another very significant community victory in the drive to win long-term protection for this iconic site.

“Although neglected by the authorities, Princess Vlei has long been cherished by the community. Generations of families from all over the Cape Flats have visited for braais and picnics.

“It is home to three endangered vegetation systems and several species of birds and other creatures.

“The legend of the Princess, and geological evidence of early human occupation, links the area to our city’s Khoe heritage,” the PVF said.

The Gugulethu Development Forum’s Vincent Domingo said they had been calling for several years for the Gugulethu Seven Memorial site to be protected.

“It is about time the province takes this seriously,” Domingo said, adding that Gugulethu and its surrounds was a key site for anti-apartheid activists, the Struggle and the growing movement.

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