Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - The ANC's Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs welcomed plans announced on Monday by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to have Cape Town's picturesque Bo-Kaap neighbourhood declared a national heritage site.

SABC reported that Mthethwa made the announcement on a visit to the area, where he celebrated Reconciliation Day with residents. The minister also, on his officialTwitter account, said he hoped that the Bo-Kaap would eventually be declared an international heritage site.

This follows an application by the ANC Youth League last month to have the traditionally Muslim area declared a provincial heritage site.

Residents have been locked in a stand-off with property developers, while the issue of heritage protection for the area became a point of contestation in political power struggles within the Cape Town city council. 

Earlier this month, the Cape Town High Court temporarily halted construction on a property development in the Bo-Kaap when it ruled that development company Blok could not move a crane onto its building site on Lion Street until the next court date, which is on Tuesday.

Residents have vowed to fight to have the development stopped.

Jacobs said he was delighted at Mthethwa's announcement.

“We are happy with this news because it’s a reassurance to Bo-Kaap residents that the ANC government is standing behind them. Their heritage is not for sale.

“This is a huge victory for them and we are restoring their dignity. Bo-Kaap residents can be assured our government is protecting their right to continue living without constantly fearing the intrusion of greedy developers into in an area that is unique in South Africa.”

African News Agency/ANA