Voice of the Cape

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Public urged to comment on the 20 proposed Bo-Kaap sites for heritage status

Amid a huge push by the community to stop gentrification, the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) has called for public submissions on Bo Kaap’s proposed heritage sites. It has issued a notice of intent to all stakeholders in terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 OF 1999 to protect heritage resources at a national level.

According to SAHRA, part of this mandate is to identify places “with qualities so exceptional that they are of national significance” and investigate the possibility of declaring the place a national Heritage site.

SAHRA has identified the following sites as possible National Heritage Sites:

  • The Auwal Masjid
  • Prayer Quarry
  • The Tana Baru Burial Ground
  • The Stables Site
  • The Strand Street Quarry
  • The Wash House Quarry
  • The Spolander House
  • Schotsche Kloof Primary School
  • St Pauls Primary School
  • The Block House
  • Buitengracht Street Wall
  • Vista High School
  • Schotsche Kloof Homestead
  • Stadzicht Homestead Nural Islam Masjid (Upper Buitengracht Street
  •  Jamia Masjid (Lower Chiappini Street)
  • Masjid Shafee (Upper Chiappini Street)
  • Masjid Boorhanol Islam (Longmarket Street)
  • Nurul Huda Masjid (Upper Leeuwen Street)*
  • Bo Kaap Museum

SAHRA said a declaration is the most permanent form of formal protection on a site. It also serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of the site in terms of the history of South Africa.

“The site is protected to ensure the sustainably of the site and that the significance identified in the site is maintained,” said the agency.

In terms of Section 27 (18), “no person may destroy, damage, deface, excavate, alter, remove from its original position, subdivide or change the planning status of any heritage site declared a National Heritage Site without a permit from SAHRA”. In terms of section 27 (22) of the NHRA, no person may damage any fence, wall or gate constructed or sign erected by SAHRA in terms of subsection (21).

The public can now make representations or written submissions regarding the proposed declaration to the following postal address: SAHRA, P.O. Box 4637, Cape Town, 8001. Alternatively, you may submit via email to the following email addresses: bmwasinga@sahra.org.za or hweldon@sahra.org.za

Alternatively, you may make representation at a public meeting on 16th March 2019 at the Castle of Good Hope where the proposed declarations will be discussed.

Heritage Protection Overlay Zone
At the same time, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has said it will work with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights (CRL Commission) to assist with recommendations to have Bo-Kaap declared a heritage protection overlay zone (HPOZ).

The declaration will affect all those who own property in the Bo-Kaap because all those looking into new developments, restorations, maintenance and alteration of properties will need to apply. City officials will then check the potential impact the proposed development will have on the heritage of the area.

Contention over separate hearings prompted a public participation process between 18 January and 22 February, which brought in nearly 2 300 comments.

“The City has received 2,298 comments of which 2,271 fully supported the proposed HPOZ,” said Mayco member for spatial planning Marian Nieuwoudt.

Executive Council (Exco) member of MJC Sheik Dawood Terblanche. that CRL Commission recently said in a meeting that they “have been monitoring the Bo-Kaap issue” but noted that no formal letter of concern has been submitted.

“Their role is a constitutional one that ensures the preservation and protection of CRL minorities within the country. They can make a recommendation to the government with regards to proposals and a way forward,” said Terblanche.

A meeting by the MJC last Monday called on lawyers to assist the community with their court battles, highlighting the importance of giving back to the community.

“It is important (to) serve the community and society in general. It is an important conversation parents need to have with their children. I’d like to appeal to lawyers and advocates to see how they can assist (us),” said Terblanche.

Bo-Kaap is considered to be the Cradle of Islam in the country and is home to religious monuments such as the Tana Baru.

“Culture is very important to us… it’s our identity. With all the developments, that (culture) is under immediate threat. We see gentrification has pushed up the rates from between 100%-400%.”

Residents have hosted several demonstrations in protest of the increase in rates and construction of high-rise buildings in the area.

“If we allow things to proceed the way it is then we will be losing Bo-Kaap very shortly and we will just be visiting the area with our grandchildren,” Terblanche said.

The MJC said it has given a commitment to Bo-Kaap and will be following up.  The declaration will rely on whether council accepts or rejects the proposal drafted by Heritage officials.

The report and recommendation are expected to be presented at the next council meeting on Thursday 28 March. VOC

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