Heritage Newsletters

Do you know of a struggle site that is neglected? Is mining activity threatening ancestral graves? Is your local town hall standing empty and abandoned? Is gentrification irreparably altering the character of your community? Is a museum threatened with closure? Tell us about these sites and the local efforts to save them. We’d like to share your story with the rest of South Africa – and hopefully inspire action.

For the month of August, the Heritage Monitoring Project (HMP), in association with The Heritage Portal and the Heritage Association of South Africa, is calling on South Africa to identify our most endangered heritage sites. 
This is the second year that the campaign will be running. In 2016, the sites that made it onto the list included a pre-colonial archaeological site, living cultural landscapes, historic colonial forts, a mine workers’ hostel and a 19th century bridge (click here to view).
The purpose of the campaign is to identify and raise awareness of cultural heritage sites that are at significant risk through natural or manmade forces. 
“We believe that cultural conservation management cannot be left to the state or lobbyists on their own but is firstly, about communities actively being encouraged and empowered to take action as primary custodians and a first line of defense of our national estate. This can only be achieved if we highlight stories that can inspire other communities, gain media exposure for specific causes, raise awareness among potential funders and heritage authorities and encourage the general public to take action by supporting advocacy campaigns or donating time, money or providing other forms of support. We also realise that heritage conservation is often about David and Goliath battles where communities are pitched against powerful developers, mining interests, industrial lobby groups or even the state. Here too, it’s important that these cases receive all the publicity and awareness they can get”, says Jacques Stoltz, co-founder of the HMP.   
Sites of cultural significance that are within the territorial borders of the Republic of South Africa may be submitted for consideration. Sites may range from cultural landscapes to individual buildings or structures, to groups of structures, public monuments or memorials, open spaces, archaeological sites, palaeontological sites, significant or rare geological sites or similar. 
Submissions will have to reach us by midnight on the 28th of August 2017Click here to view the nomination form.
For more information contact: Jacques Stoltz - 083 455 9688 | jacques@placematters.co.za
For help with the nomination form or to submit your nomination form via email contact James Ball - jamesball01@gmail.com
The grading for Cape Town's heritage resources (buildings) are available on The City of Cape Town GIS viewer at the following link on their website:
Pse look to the right on the layer menu and select THEMES, HERITAGE, LOCAL HERITAGE RESOURCES
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his page contains a link to all the back issues of The Heritage Portal newsletters as explained below:
Heritage Portal Newsletter
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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