Bo-Kaap to be declared national heritage site

A process to have the Bo-Kaap declared a national heritage site will begin early in the new year, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced on Monday.

His announcement was met with cheers from the people assembled in the hall of Schotshekloof Primary School on the slopes of Signal Hill, at an event organised by the Bo-Kaap Civics and Ratepayers Association to thank the predominantly elderly woman from the neighbourhood whom last month prevented a developer’s crane from entering the area.

Mthethwa also said after the Bo-Kaap has been declared a national heritage site, UNESCO will be asked to declare it a world heritage site.

After proceedings in the school hall, Mthethwa told journalists the process to have the Bo-Kaap a heritage site will be implemented so that “it is not tampered with”.

“These people here should never be disturbed. This is their land. All of us should support them,” he said.


“I don’t think a right-minded person would be opposed to that. It will be to the benefit of society.”

Earlier, he told those in the hall: “People stayed here for centuries. Later, somebody come, says they’re going to increase the rates. ‘You must pay my rates’. Where do you come from?”

“When we talk reconciliation, we talk healing the wounds of the past. Don’t open them,” he said.

He also paid homage to the women of the Bo-Kaap who prevented a crane from entering the neighbourhood, saying they reminded him of the women who led the defiance campaign.

Heritage status for the colourful, historic neighbourhood has been central in its inhabitants’ struggle against gentrification.

In 2013, sub-council 16 called for the Bo-Kaap to be declared a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ). In 2015, proposals from the Bo-Kaap Civic Association together with the City’s environmental resource management department followed, saying an HPOZ would “assist with the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Bo-Kaap”.

But, according to a forensic report by law firm Bowmans, which was adopted by the City council at a dramatic council meeting in October, former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille allegedly blocked it.

In early December, De Lille’s successor Dan Plato announced that the city will proceed with the process to have the Bo-Kaap declared an HPOZ.

Meanwhile, a piece of land has been sold to the developers Blok, who started work on a residential development whose units will price in the millions.

Following earlier protests in May, Blok obtained an interdict against the Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood Watch and the community – as well as all other persons causing obstructions or unlawfully conducting themselves.

READ MORE: Bo-Kaap unites in protest to hold onto heritage

This interdict restricted residents from obstructing the route or interfering with the transportation of the mobile crane to and from the construction site at 40 Lion Street.

They are also prohibited from entering the construction site and from vandalising, sabotaging or committing arson to any of Blok’s property – including construction vehicles.

Last month, residents, many of them elderly women, tried to prevent a mobile crane from entering the neighbourhood. As the crane rolled up Bloem Street flanked by private security guards armed with Airsoft guns, some residents laid on the street, blocking the crane’s way.

READ MORE: Bo-Kaap divided over developers

After a standoff which led to the closure of busy Buitengracht Street, stun grenades were fired to disperse the small crowd and five people were arrested for contravening the National Road Traffic Act and a court interdict. The charges were later dropped.

On December 6, Bo-Kaap residents cheered outside the Western Cape High Court after their legal representative informed them an agreement with Blok’s legal has been reached that the crane will not enter the neighbourhood until December 18 – Tuesday.

The matter was postponed to Tuesday, with a court date for arguments set to be determined after consulting with the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court.

Lawyer and Bo-Kaap community member Seeham Samaai said the Bo-Kaap’s issue can’t be separated from that of the rest of the city and of the Western Cape.

She said the city continues to ensure that there is spatial apartheid.

“We are fighting for the heart and soul, not just of the Bo-Kaap, but of the city and of the Western Cape,” she said.

She said the women of the Bo-Kaap were phenomenal.

She said the violence that occurred when the prevented the crane from entering was disproportionate, and government must be kept accountable.

“It must not happen to any community ever again.” — News 24

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Jan Gerber
Jan Gerber
Journalist & photographer. Parliamentary reporter for News24

Related stories

Effective and professional government communication is essential to democracy

Spelling and factual mistakes cause irreparable damage to department credibility

UIF delays are making me Ters

We can gamble and eat out and one day gwais will be legal, but staying pozi is best — the virus is gaining on us, writes Paddy Harper

Fighting a way out of Covid-19

Artists are trying new ways of working, with few of them able to access state relief funds

Watch it again: Mthethwa briefing on Covid-19 relief fund for sport and arts and culture

The minister will update the nation on funding for the sector as well as present the challenges the department faces

Blessed peace under lockdown

I’ve silenced the Bible Thumper and dumped social media drivel but physical distancing, an art the deputy prez has mastered, is tricky

Athletes count costs as Covid-19 spreads

Comrades winner Bong’musa Mthembu cannot compete because of Covid-19 but is fortunate that he can survive financially. Others are not as lucky as their sources of income have dried up
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Between dark and light was Maradona

The life of Diego Armando Maradona, who died this week, will always remind us that the smell of shit is as important as the perfume of flowers, writes Niren Tolsi

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court...

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

Student funding scheme gets new chief executive and board

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has been under administration for two years after its board was dissolved and its boss resigned not even halfway through his term

General Council of the Bar slams Zuma Foundation

Another summons has been served on Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence, requiring the former president to appear before the Zondo Commission next year
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…