Historical places declared new heritage sites

This is the Langa Pass Office which has been turned into a museum.

Gugulethu Development Forum (GDF) and Langa Heritage Foundation have welcomed the announcement that the Gugulethu Seven Memorial and the Langa Pass Office had been included in a list of provincial heritage sites by Heritage Western Cape last week.

The Gugulethu Seven Memorial, erected on Human Rights Day, March 21 in 2005, honours Themba Molefi, Christopher Piet, Zola Swelani, Zabonkwe Konile, Mandla Mxinwa, Jabulani Miya and Zandisile Mjobo who were brutally killed by apartheid police in March 1986.

The unfenced memorial, which has been vandalised, is situated at the corner of Steve Biko Drive.

The Langa Pass Office was another institution used by the apartheid government to detain and arrest black people. It has now been turned into a museum.

Vincent Domingo, the GDF secretary, said they had been pleading with government to declare the Gugulethu Seven Memorial as a heritage site for years.

He said they had been concerned about the state of the memorial and had therefore been calling for government to declare it as a heritage site.

He said it had been vandalised too many times and because of this many people do not understand its importance and value to the community of Gugulethu.

Mr Domingo said the community at large, including the youth, would now get an opportunity to learn about these unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives for the freedom they (the youth) enjoy today.

“We are extremely excited about this because now the government will allocate funds to maintain and repair the memorial. Our children will learn about them and their heroic efforts will live forever and never perish.

“I hope that this will also open up doors of employment for the youth so that they can become tour guides and talk about this (the history and legacy).

“I hope this will put the area in the spotlight,” he said.

Mr Domingo said he also hopes that the community will take pride in the heritage declaration and will play a critical role in protecting the memorial.

Anroux Marais, the MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, said the two sites along with the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel and Princess Vlei in Retreat have been approved by Heritage Western Cape as provincial heritages sites.

Ms Marais said all of them have special qualities that made them significant within the Western Cape.

These sites connect closely to events and figures of provincial significance and enrich the understanding of the cultural, historical and social development of the Western Cape, and South Africa.

“These sites have a rich history to the province but also to the communities in which they are situated. In many instances, the sites hold narratives highlighting the resilient spirit of the people of our country. It is of utmost importance that we continue to protect these sites and that communities look after the sites to preserve them for generations to come,” Ms Marais said.

She said once a site is declared a Provincial Heritage Site, it enjoys the highest level of protection in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999.

While Heritage Month has come to an end, she said they encourage everyone to always celebrate and protect the sites, stories and people that carry the narratives of the past in order for us to continue building a safe future for all.

Alfred Magwaca, a member of the Langa Heritage Foundation, said they were excited about this announcement and hoped that it would yield positive outcomes.

Mr Magwaca said he has been volunteering at the museum, giving tourists and pupils lessons about its history.

He said he hopes this declaration would open up job opportunities and that more resources would be allocated towards the museum.

Mr Magwaca said there are also other places in the area such as Old Flats which he believes have the qualities and significance that would qualify them to be also declared as heritage sites.