As a born-and-raised Capetonian from the southern suburbs, I’m quite excited about this news. The iconic wetland system known as Princess Vlei has never really lived up to its potential and has unfortunately acted as a dumping area and breeding ground for criminal activities over the years.
Several hundred years ago, the picture was completely different. Princess Vlei was a pristine wetland system frequented by a Gorachoqua princess and her Khoisan clan, who had taken up residence in Elephant’s Eye cave and used the wetland system for water.
It is this exact picture that the makeover is set to pay homage to – the original people of Cape Town. For some years there have been rumblings of a multi-level shopping mall development for Princess Vlei with little regard for wetland conservation in the plans. Fortunately, this has been shelved and the city’s Caring and Managing Public Spaces department is putting forward a brilliant plan of action to restore the wetland while at the same time paying tribute to the legacy of the Khoisan people.
Included in the plans, with as little ecological impact as possible, is a tourist centre, Khoisan heritage village, fresh produce market, a Vlei walkway, children’s play area, a restaurant and tea room.
I have nothing but admiration for the local body who successfully fought off the commercial developers and proposed to turn the area into a heritage site that remembers its past.
Read more about the Princess Vlei makeover here.