With the country just coming out of heritage month, and residents encouraged to relish in the traditions, history and memories of their forbearers, the Western Cape Heritage Council has approved the classification of five new heritage sites in the province.
The sites include Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel; Gugulethu 7 Memorial; Langa Pass office in Langa; Princess Vlei in Retreat and Blaauwberg Nature Reserve.
Speaking on the VOC Breakfast show on Thursday morning, the Bonteheuwel Legacy Arts Collective co-founder, 35-year-old Irma Titus shared her jubilance at the decision.
“I think it’s a really proud moment for Bonteheuwel and particularly youth activism in the area. Both for my generation and the ones before me and this is really the culmination of memory and history work in the area and a numerous people have put the time and effort into making this classification possible,” said a triumphant Titus.
Titus explained that even though many residents feel as if the Freedom Square has been neglected, she reminded them that by declaring the space a heritage site, that will bring more activity.
“It’s a sign of progress and I want to honor the informal traders for keeping the light burning on Freedom Square because they really are Bontheheuwel’s frontline soldiers because Freedom Square is essentially a community hub,” stated Titus.
Titus appealed to creative thinkers to come forward and collaborate to ensure the stories of Western Cape’s forefathers do not die out with its people.
“There is no space for the Metro police vans on the Freedom Square any longer. That space is ours and if any other community member feels the same, they should come forth and claim it,” added Titus.
Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais said all five sites have distinct qualities which make them significant within the Western Cape. She added the sites are closely linked to events and figures of provincial significance. The sites also enrich the understanding of the cultural, historical and social development of the province and the country.
MEC for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt said the provincial heritage council consulted the City on the proposed declarations of the new sites and the City supported their declaration.
Furthermore, the Princess Vlei Forum (PVF) said since its formation eight years ago, concerned communities had been lobbying to raise awareness of the cultural, social and ecological value of the Greater Princess Vlei Conservation Area.
Ward councillor of Langa, Samkelo John explained it had always been his wish that Langa Pass office be classified as a heritage site as it was the first township pass office established in the Western Cape by the apartheid government.
The Gugulethu Development Forum’s Vincent Domingo stated they had been calling for several years for the Gugulethu Seven Memorial site to be protected.
Plaques or notice boards indicating the PHS status will be unveiled at the various sites in due course.