After a lengthy process and waiting period, Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has announced that a total of 19 areas in the Bo-Kaap area will now be declared as national heritage sites.
This announcement was made at the Bo-Kaap Civic Centre, where Mthethwa informed community members that the sites have already been gazetted for official notice.
Some of the 19 areas include mosques, the Bo-Kaap Museum, and a number of schools. “The protection of religious, cultural and architectural heritage of the area is at the fore of the community concerns,” the gazetted notice reads. “The community spirit of Bo-Kaap as described in many historical studies has been carried through the last two centuries by generations of families residing in the area.”
The Bo-Kaap has been subject to many attempts at gentrification and commercialisation over the years, and this has resulted in high tensions and a series of protests stretching across several months in 2018.
“Some people came and like vultures looked to sell Bo-Kaap to the highest bidder; totally neglecting the rich cultural heritage of this community. We have to challenge them, because the contribution of this community cannot be reduced to its commercialisation,” Mthethwa said. “Since time in memorial the struggles of our people have recieved support after proactive action was taken from within; so I would like to thank this community under the leadership of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association for organising yourselves so diligently.”
The Cape Town’s City Council approved the Bo-Kaap being included in a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) on March 28, 2019.
“We will not rest until we ensure that the very soul of Bo-Kaap is protected,” the Minister said.
The City of Cape Town received more than 2 000 submissions in feedback when it initially proposed the declaration. A total of 2 298 comments were recorded, with 2 271 supporting the HPOZ.
The HPOZ stretches all the way to the Table Mountain National Park, including the verges to the northwest of Strand Street as well as Buitengracht Street.