Former activist meeting point Freedom Square unveiled as Heritage Site | Western Cape Government



Former activist meeting point Freedom Square unveiled as Heritage Site

9 March 2021

The socio-political and historic significance of Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel was recognised on Monday, 8 March 2021 when it was officially unveiled as a Provincial Heritage Site.

During the liberation struggle, Freedom Square was used as meeting point for anti-apartheid activist from Bonteheuwel and other areas around Cape Town.

Heritage Western Cape (HWC), one of the public entities of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, declared the square as a Provincial Heritage Site in September 2020 along with four other sites.

Ron Martin, chairperson of the Inventories, Grading and Interpretation Committee (IGIC) at HWC, said the new heritage status showed that the people of Bonteheuwel’s voices have been heard.

“The role players of this declaration are particularly special in the sense that they persevered for many years to get some tangible form of recognition. We all know the personalities that came from Bonteheuwel, the people, the souls, and the sacrifices that were made by parents of this community in sending their children, sometimes unwittingly, into battle against an unjust regime during the 1980s,” Mr Martin said.

“The way that heritage used to look at the narrative attached to countries and communities was to showcase and highlight symbols of oppression. For the first time we are highlighting symbols of resistance and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. It was this triumph that brought down apartheid.

“So Bonteheuwel, you can be especially proud of your role in the recognition of this heritage site today. The heritage authorities have listened. That is why we are here today. Your voice has been heard.”

Freedom Square is the second Provincial Heritage site to be unveiled in as many weeks, following a ceremony at the Langa Pass Office on Friday, 26 February.

Minister Anroux Marais unveiled the new heritage plaque in Bonteheuwel on Monday and delivered the keynote address in front of a reduced-capacity crowd.

“Together with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City of Cape Town’s facilitation and valued input from members of the local community, the socio-political and historical significance of this site is now officially acknowledged and will rightfully be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site,” the Minister said. 

“As a result of in-depth research and following the relevant official processes, the historical significance of Bonteheuwel’s Freedom Square can now be highlighted.  Bonteheuwel has a rich history of political activism in the centre of an apartheid state repression. Freedom Square in Bonteheuwel was a space used at the centre of political activism and is significant in honouring the legacy of selfless leadership and the contribution that youth played in the struggle against racial discrimination and apartheid.”

The three other sites that received heritage status in 2020 were the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, the Gugulethu 7 Memorial, and Princess Vlei in Retreat. All five sites are now protected by the National Heritage Resources Act.

For more information about Heritage Western Cape, visit the organisation’s official webpage.

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