Voice of the Cape

From the news desk

Possible light at the end of the tunnel for Bo-Kaap residents

The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee has resolved to support the designation of Bo-Kaap as a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone and has recommended that Council approves a public participation process.

This comes amidst continuous battles by Bo-Kaap residents to declare the area as a heritage site. Residents have been at constant loggerheads with authorities to prevent development in the area.

Committed residents have for months taken to the streets to protest high-rise buildings and gentrification in the area.

Community leader Jacky Poking has described the ‘takeover’ of the area by developers as “economic apartheid forced removals.”

Mayor Dan Plato said while certain developments need to be protected, others need to be prevented.

“The Mayoral committee has also decided that we need to embark on a new process of public participation because the feedback received is that the public participatory process of two years ago is no longer viable,” said the newly appointed Mayor.

Plato explains that despite the legal process being a long one, it is better to embark on the proper route.

“In the long run it is better to embark on a real and acceptable process, so the process cannot just be overturned in a year or two. It will give some comfort and surety in the minds of the Bo-Kaap residents in the types of developments as they will have a say in it,” said Plato.

Plato stressed that this is in no way a “delaying tactic.”

“We don’t want to be challenged a few years down the line and then the very same people calling it delaying tactics will ask why we didn’t listen to proper advice. The big problem with the previous process is that it was not ratified by Council.”

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BKCRA) chairperson Osman Shabodien has called on Plato to halt all developments in the area until the overlay is received.

When discussing the restarting of the public participation process, Shabodien posed the question as to who the City is waiting for to do so.

“Are they waiting for the other developers to get their plans started? We are sitting with the same situation yet again where they are holding up the process which could take up to two years,” said Shabodien.

BKCRA will on Thursday appear in court to challenge the second interdict taken out by property developers Blok.

By: Zaahidah Meyer / VOC

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