The idea is to 'guide' development in the Bo Kaap - Sarha

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced last December that a process to have the Bo Kaap declared a national heritage site would begin in 2019.

The move is a response to residents' concerns about ongoing development in the historic area.

Ben Mwasinga, the built environment unit manager at the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sarha) says 20 sites have been identified that may be declared national heritage sites.

Where we are currently, we are looking at institutional sites - the mosque, the schools, the quarries, as well as a few other sites of significance such as the Strand Street wall and that basically means is that there will be formal protection for those sites against any form of development without a permit from Sarha.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

But do all the sites in question meet the criteria for national heritage sites?

I am quite convinced, I am 90% sure that a number of those sites will definitely be declared, but at the moment as I said when it comes to the declaration process, one of the key components as well is getting consent from the owner or the management authority of a site.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

Some sites are contentious. A few sites have a few disputes attached to them - ownership, people trying to sell them off.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

The Department of Arts and Culture's interest is not only because of the area's historic architectural value, but also because of the history of the community.

There's multiple layers - one of them is the fact that pre-18th century Dutch colonial architecture intact, in its original form, a large concentration of it is in the Bo Kaap.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

But we are also looking at a site that is associated with the history of slavery. As you know the Cape Malays were taken from Indonesia, Java and south east Asia and brought to the Cape Quarter at the time as slaves and also you have a history associated to the origins of Islam in South Africa.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

A public participation meeting takes place at the Castle of Good Hope on Saturday morning until 12 pm to get residents' input on the future of the Bo Kaap.

Mwasinga emphasizes that Sarha is not anti-development - the idea he says, is to guide development.

Even someone wanting to basically change a window frame on one of the historical houses we're talking about is developing in a sense. We are trying to guide development so that it's sensitive to the environment it finds itself in.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

This process is happening concurrently with the City's HPOZ process, that is the heritage protection overlay zone so there are two processes happening concurrently that are going to add layers of protection to the Bo Kaap.

Ben Mwasinga, Built environment unit manager - Sarha

For more on the conversation with Mwasinga listen below:


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