Heritage Newsletters

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Heritage Portal Newsletter
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Heritage Newsflash

The South African Heritage Association (‘SAHRA’) invites the public to provide comments on new draft updated Minimum Standards for Heritage Specialist Studies published in terms of section 38 of the National Heritage Resources Act, No 25 of 1999 (‘NHRA’). The commenting period runs from 1 September 2017 until 30 September 2017.

Who is affected?
Heritage practitioners, heritage specialists as well as members of the public are encouraged to submit comments on the new draft standards.

More information
The new draft standards aim to improve the NHRA section 38 application process by providing guidance on how Heritage Specialist Studies, are to be completed and what they should contain as per section 38(3) of that Act. Section 38 sets out the requirements in respect of any proposed development which may have an impact on heritage resources. The draft standards also aim to align the section 38 process with the Environmental Authorisation application process in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, Act No 107 of 1998 (NEMA) and the NEMA 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (as amended).

The document may be downloaded from the SAHRA website.






Email: info@vassa.org.za

Website: www.vassa.org.za


During the seventeenth century Cape Town expanded for the most part from the sea towards Table Mountain, along the axis of the Heerengracht or Adderley Street. During the eighteenth century it began to fill Table Valley. This square was situated on the outermost street of the City, on Buitengracht Street. It was first known as “Boeren Plijn”, then as “Hottentot Plijn and finally as Riebeeck Square. These three names reflect the history of the square.

In the olden days the roads from the interior joined at a point somewhere east of the Castle and the wagons with their long spans of oxen all had to pass through a tollgate. At first the farmers outspanned their wagons anywhere, but soon they had to be properly controlled.

They trekked past the Castle and up Sea Street (now Strand Street) to this large square, which thus acquired the name of “Boeren Plijn.

However, inroads were made on the Square during the first British occupation of the Cape. In the middle of the square on the Bree Street side stands South Africa’s first theatre, originally known as The African Theatre. lt was designed by the architect Louis Thibault and built in 1801 by Sir George Yonge. Lady Anne Barnard often visited this theatre. Today it is a Dutch Reformed Church known as St. Stephens; the balcony and stage can still be seen.

Meanwhile the square lost its original function and name. In 1812 a new market was established immediately east of the Castle where the farmers now outspanned their wagons and conducted their business. The “Boeren Plijn” gradually became known as Hottentot Square, a name, which appeared for the first time on a plan of Cape Town, prepared by Geo Thompson in 1827. 

In the 1860’s it was re-named Riebeeck Square in honour of the Dutch commander of the VOC settlement of the Cape. By this time, too, it had become much smaller and, to prevent any further encroachments, it was proclaimed as a national monument on l7th February 1961.



Once destined to be a parking garage, the Bree/Shortmarket block in central Cape Town has now taken on a new guise, Heritage Square.

In the largest project of its type undertaken in the Mother City, the group of eighteenth century town houses, associated outbuildings and a warehouse has been restored by the Cape Town Heritage Trust and Shortmarket Properties. The restored complex includes a fifteen bedroom hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, offices and an operating blacksmith.

The evolution of the saga of the Bree/Shortmarket restoration project has its origins in a proposal to develop an extensive ring road system for the city. This proposed scheme would have entailed the demolition of the entire Bree/Shortmarket block, for a parking garage, as well as numerous old buildings on Hout and Shortmarket Streets, to allow for road-widening.

There was considerable opposition to the proposed Buitengracht Freeway and the demolition of the various buildings concerned, principally from the Simon van der Stel Foundation and the Institute of Architects, but with vociferous support from City Councillor Joan Kantey and various journalists, including Victor Holloway. A re-appraisal of the supporting planning criteria, and a recognition of the need to conserve the buildings, led to the abandonment of the proposed parking garage and road-widening scheme.

The Cape Town Heritage Trust was set up in 1987 and fourteen properties in Hout, Shortmarket, Loop and Long Streets acquired by the City Council in connection with the scheme donated to the Trust. Lengthy negotiations with the City Council led to the donation of the council-owned properties on the Bree/Shortmarket block in 1996. The agreement of the Provincial Administration, which had contributed 80% on the cost of acquiring the properties, to the envisaged scheme was critical and did much to make the project possible. 

(Cape Town Heritage Trust website)



On 30 December 2016, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) declared the following sites as national heritage sites in terms of section 27 (5) of the National Heritage Resources Act, 25 of 1999 (NHRA):

(i)  the Mendi Memorial (GN 1605 in GG  40526 of 30 December 2016)
Significance of Site
This site located at the South East corner of the University of Cape Town’s soccer fields, is a symbolic reminder of the South African lives lost on the steamship Mendi in 1917 and of the long-ignored and forgotten history of the South African Native Labour Corps. It is a reminder of the role played by black South Africans in World War I and of the link of these events, to the liberation struggle in South Africa.

(ii) the Three Sharpesville Massacre Sites (GN 1606 in GG40526 of 30 December 2016)
  • the Memorial Garden (located on Erf 9172);
  • the Police Station (located on Erf 9175); and
  • the graves of the 69 people killed at the massacre (located in the Phelindaba Cemetery, Theunis Kruger Street).
Significance of Site
This site signifies a turning point in the history of South Africa. On 21 March 1960, the police opened fire on a peaceful march led by the Pan Africanist Congress, in protest against the pass laws. This display of police brutality in which 69 people died, was to become known as the Sharpesville Massacre. 
Effect of Declarations 
The effect of the declarations is that these sites now fall under the national protection of SAHRA. If SAHRA considers it appropriate, the sites must be marked with a badge indicating their status as a national heritage sites. Section 27 of the NHRA provides that a permit issued by SAHRA, will be required before any of the following activities may be undertaken in relation to the sites:
  • destruction;
  • damage;
  • excavation;
  • alteration;
  • removal from their original positions;
  • subdivision or changing the planning status of the sites.
Additionally, all reproduction rights in two or three dimensions in respect of the sites will as a result of the declaration vest in the State and SAHRA, subject to any existing rights and the agreement of the owner of the site. The effect of this is that no person except the owners of the sites, may make a reproduction of the sites for profit, without a permit issued by either SAHRA. Permits for these activities may also be obtained from Heritage Western Cape or the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority Gauteng, respectively.

Non-compliance with these and other requirements relating to a national heritage site is an offence under the NHRA, which may attract either a fine or imprisonment or both sanctions.
Note that other Heritage documents of interest are appended below, including Minutes of Heritage Western Cape's committee for Archeology, Paleontology and Meteorites (APM)
CIBRA Cape Town,
Jul 13, 2017, 2:05 AM