Locals up in arms

2017-04-25 06:01

Muizenberg residents are taking up a new battle as they prepare to band together to save the historic Battle of Muizenberg site.

A meeting of concerned residents – dubbed the Battle for Muizenberg Warriors – has been planned for next week, to establish a group to preserve and revitalise the space.

The site was opened to the public in 2008 following rehabilitation. But it has since become a concern to residents, who have raised issues around vagrancy, dumping and crime, says Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society chairperson Glenn Babb.

“After this auspicious opening the site deteriorated both in its facilities (benches and lawns) and in its functionality. Because patrolling and guarding were costly and inconvenient the site degraded to the point where it was even dangerous and unpleasant to visit. Vagrants and drug dealers moved in and built a little village and the site became less and less wholesome for visitors.”

In a bid to clean up the site, various operations have taken place, with those living illegally on the site arrested, and new fencing installed (“12 arrests at battle site”, People’s Post, 7 March).

Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl is now driving the formation of a new committee which will set about the site’s rehabilitation environmentally, historically and ­administratively.

The property is zoned as residential and falls under the City of Cape Town’s property management department, which has a stretched budget, explains Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South).

Kuhl believes one of the best ways to prevent further illegal occupation at the site is to include it in heritage tours and appoint a community organisation, with an interest in preserving heritage, to take ownership of the space.

Although the City has not had any formal application from community organisations to oversee the site, its heritage department will be the one to consider a management agreement with a community organisation, says Andrews.

The site of the Battle of Muizenberg (fought on 7 August 1795) will always be an important feature of the history of Muizenberg, says Babb.

“The Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society is determined that with new vigour the site can become a central point of reference for Muizenberg,” he says.

The society would like to see the access patrolled, a kiosk set up at Main Road with private and business partnership, picnic sites cleared and easy access assured, says Babb.

In addition, the society is planning to celebrate the Battle of Muizenberg on 7 August as a way to publicise “the new determination to make the site once again a place of leisure and enjoyment which engenders pride in our suburb”, he says.

Residents interested in playing an active role in the Battle for Muizenberg Warriors group are invited to attend the meeting at the Hive on Thursday 4 May at 18:30.

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