The recognition of Gugulethu Seven Memorial and Langa Pass Office as provincial heritage sites has been welcomed by the local communities.
In a media statement released on Tuesday 29 September, provincial minister of sports and culture Anroux Marais said the two sites, along with the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel and Princess Vlei in Retreat, have been added onto the Provincial Heritage Sites (PHS).
She said all five sites 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 indeed South Africa,” read the statement.
Once a site has been declared a provincial heritage site, it enjoys the highest level of protection in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act.
Marais emphasised the need to protect the sites. “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,” she said.
Plaques or notice boards indicating the PHS status are expected to be unveiled in due course.
The Gugulethu Seven monument on the corner of Steve Biko Drive, formerly known as NY1 and NY111, is in commemoration of seven young men (Mandla Mxinwa, Jabulani Miya, Themba Molefi, Christopher Piet, Zola Swelani, Zabonkwe Konile and Zandisile Mjobo) who were killed by apartheid police in March 1986. It was unveiled in 2013.
The Langa Pass Office was another establishment used by the apartheid government against black people. It found thousands of black people guilty of crimes that never really existed.
Commenting on the announcement the Langa Heritage Foundation and Gugulethu Development Forum (GDF) expressed jubilation. They hope the approval would bring job opportunities into their communities.
GDF secretary Vincent Domingo said they are “excited” about the announcement. He said they have been asking for this for over five years. He said young people would get a chance to learn about sacrifices made under apartheid. “This place should put to the spotlight our leaders we learnt from about umzabalazo. We believe this should be used like a museum that is in Soweto where the local history will be told so that it does not perish,” he said. “We are very excited, and we hope it can now be enclosed and maintained. It needs to have local tour guides something that will create job opportunities as our people are suffering. Our people live in poverty, others are sick and they need houses which are priorities but such history where we come from cannot be forgotten,” said Domingo.
Alfred Magwaca of the Langa Heritage Foundation cautiously welcomed the announcement. He questioned the significance of the status to the local community.
“We are happy as this place is a treasure for the people of Langa. This is our gold, though many do not realise that. We have a number of places around this area that can be used to preserve our heritage as Langa Pass Office,” said Magwaca, adding they need to be given full permission to control it while the provincial government supports them with resources.
“We do not have a curator there, so people deserve to be incentivised so they can be encouraged. Now we will need to have a board so this can be run properly and professionally,” said Magwaca.