Bo-Kaap to wait up to two years for heritage status

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23 January 2019| 16 Jumadul Ulaa 1440| IOL News 

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has indicated that it could take up to two years for the iconic Bo-Kaap area to be declared a national heritage site.

“The process of the SA Heritage Resources Agency is one that, unlike that of Unesco (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), can take up to two years,” said Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Asanda Magaqa.

Mthethwa rallied behind Bo-Kaap residents, promising in December that the government planned to make the area a “cultural destination for all”.

The process to declare the area a national heritage site is expected to begin by the end of the month, with the start of public consultations on the first batch of sites. Public consultations on the second batch of sites will start next month.

Mthethwa said the Tana Baru Cemetery and the first mosque in South Africa, the Alwan Mosque in Dorp Street, along with various other sites, would be the focus of the public consultations starting next month.

The Bo-Kaap Ratepayers’ Association said it had hoped the process would be completed before the end of the year.

“However, I think what we should be thankful about is that there is a process,” said association chairperson Osman Shabodien.

In December, the mayoral committee resolved to support the process to declare Bo-Kaap a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) and recommended that council approve a public participation process.

In 2016, the process to grant Bo-Kaap HPOZ status was put on hold. In early 2018, ward 77 councillor Brandon Golding submitted a motion to council requesting that Bo-Kaap be immediately given HPOZ status.

Mayco member for spatial planning Marian Niewoudt said the process to give Bo-Kaap HPOZ status started on Friday.

“Although the processes complement each other, the City’s process provides the guidelines for building and land use development, while the national government’s process provides specific protection to identified buildings/sites.”

At the heart of efforts to gain heritage status for Bo-Kaap is the buying up of property there by developers.