A plaque unveiling at Princess Vlei has finally concreted its heritage status.
Just a few years ago developers were making plans to rezone the site to make way for a mall but thanks to the hard work and dedication of residents across the city, various organisations, forums, activists and stakeholders, the plans for the mall were overturned in 2014.
On Tuesday October 12 officials, councillors and other stakeholders unveiled the Provincial Heritage Site plaque at Princess Vlei Eco Park, off the M5.
Together with the assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City of Cape Town’s facilitation and input from the Western Cape Khoisan leadership, the Princess Vlei Forum Heritage Committee, the cultural, spiritual, recreational and environmental significance of this site will now be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site.
This means the status will now clearly communicate that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focused conservation attention from all parties.
Those involved in achieving this also hope that it will also mean that more funding and support will be made available to carry-out plans to maintain and improve facilities and the recreational site.
Ward 72 councillor Kevin Southgate said the success of Princess Vlei heritage status is a victory over the “selfish needs of capitalism”.
“As a resident of the area for many decades, reading the application for the vlei to become a heritage site rekindled memories of my childhood days, growing up in this area. The stories told about the vlei, the historic, cultural, recreational and spiritual significance is something well worth preserving for the generations to come”.
Gary Steward, chairperson of the Princess Vlei Forum thanked all those who were instrumental in the progress of the Vlei but said the work is far from over.
“This is an ongoing project and there is a lot of work still to be done so we will continue to enhance and rehabilitate the space.”
He asked government officials to continue assisting the forum and to partner with the forum to further develop the facility.
MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport Anroux Marais said the declaration of Princess Vlei as a provincial heritage site will also acknowledge the community’s sense of place and purpose and unleash its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape and country at large.
She added that the vlei is a “significant natural heritage resource that has high historical social value as it represents the living expression of the historic evolution of the Khoi and San from past to present”.
“In accordance with the community’s vision of creating a nature and heritage park, we thank the Princess Vlei Forum for focusing and promoting the heritage significance of the Vlei as a heritage resource within the province. It is this resurgence of Indigenous Cultural Movements that has occupied a unique space within the communities’ cultural significance.”