Princess Vlei crowned a heritage site
Share this article:
CAPE TOWN - The legend of the Princess, derived from the Khoi San myth, tells of the tale of the tears she wept after being abducted and drowned by Portuguese sailors, forming the Vlei, is now cemented as part of the area’s provincial heritage status.
On Tuesday, the official Provincial Heritage Site plaque was unveiled at the Princess Vlei Eco Park, off the M5 in Retreat, by the MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais.
Together with the assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City’s facilitation and input from the Western Cape Khoisan leadership to the Princess Vlei Forum Heritage Committee, the cultural, spiritual, recreational and environmental significance of this site will now be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site.
Princess Vlei Forum spokesperson Bridget Pitt said they were delighted to finally reach this point after talks to have the Vlei protected started in 2012 but a concerted push began in 2018 when Heritage Western Cape came on board.
“So much work and thought has gone into the process and we are glad that the Vlei will now get the recognition it deserves.
“It is important to remember that though we have reached the end of one process, it is the beginning of another. The Vlei is now protected but there is still a lot of work and investment to be done as it carries the legacy of decades of neglect,” said Pitt.
Marais said the site was a significant natural heritage source that had “high historical social value as it represents the living expression of the historic evolution of the Khoi and San from past to present”.
“The relevance of the Legend of the Princess gives us insight into the human culture and value system of indigenous people, the belief that oneness with nature originates from respect for nature as one cannot exist without the other.
“At the Vlei, the undeniable connection and attachment to nature is embodied through the dominant symbolic force of the water body which came to life as a result of tears shed by the Princess. The link to Elephant‘s Eye in the mountain, visible from the Vlei, is believed to be where the Princess lived and the source of her endless tears. Many believe the site provides the opportunity to reclaim their power by acting as a pinnacle for the various groups to come together at this place,” said Marais.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said the recreation and parks department had formalised an agreement with the Princess Vlei Forum that allowed the organisation to use and maintain the space and gave them an equal voice in the daily management of the Vlei.