The Rocklands Community Hall in Mitchell’s Plain has officially been declared a National Heritage Site.

Rocklands Community Hall, built by the City of Cape Town Council in 1981, was the venue of a historic gathering on August 20, 1983, which saw the establishment of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and signified a turning point in the struggle against Apartheid.

The gathering at Rocklands heralded a new phase in the Liberation Struggle as the UDF placed itself at the forefront of intensified and sustained mass protests that took place across South Africa between 1984 and 1986. The UDF demonstrated that a diverse coalition of groups and individuals could stand together, even in the most difficult times of suppression, despite differences in ideologies, to successfully put pressure on the Apartheid regime.

Campaigning around issues of housing, education and the unjust status quo of the time, the UDF initially represented 500 organisations from all sectors of society. The Front’s eventual affiliates included trade unions, youth and students, women’s and religious groups, civic associations and political parties. Within a few years, it embraced almost 1000 affiliated groups.

The hall was also built and used as a multi-amenities facility to provide for the social and recreational needs of the Mitchell’s Plains community, many of whom were forcefully removed from District 6.

“The value of the Rocklands Community Complex lies in its political and social nature and is of outstanding significance for the memorialisation and acknowledgement of civil organisations and their role and contribution to our democratic society as experienced today,” said Minister Anroux Marais.

The site was first unveiled as a Provincial Heritage Site in 2019, and has now been upgraded to a National Heritage Site. As a National Heritage Site, the hall is protected under the National Heritage Resources Act (1999).

“The declaration of the Rocklands Community Hall as a National Heritage Site is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as we can all agree that the value of the Rocklands community complex lies in its societal nature, amplified by its socio-political significance. We look forward to collaboratively sharing the significance of the newly declared National Heritage Site of erf 11553 at the Rocklands Community Hall and thank all who had a hand in the approval of the National Heritage Site status,” added Minister Marais.

“We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder as you have contributed to a community’s sense of place, belonging and purpose and unleashed its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape,”

Picture: Twitter / CulturalAffairsSport

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