Minister Marais' speech at Langa Pass Office Heritage site plaque unveiling | Western Cape Government



Minister Marais' speech at Langa Pass Office Heritage site plaque unveiling

26 February 2021

Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais

Provincial heritage site plaque unveiling: langa pass office

26 February 2021

Good day, molweni nonke, goeiemôre,
It is indeed a privilege and absolute honour to address you at this very significant occasion as we unveil the Provincial Heritage Site plaque for Erf 661, the Langa Pass Office, today. 

At the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport we strive to provide for the conservation, promotion and development of heritage resources to facilitate processes for the standardisation or changes, where necessary, to assist with heritage resource management by implementing at provincial level the mandates of the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 and the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999.

Together with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City of Cape Town’s facilitation and valued input from the Board Members of the Langa Pass Office and members of foundations around Langa, 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.   

As a result of in-depth research and following the relevant official processes, the historical significance of the Langa Pass Office can now be highlighted. 

During our divided past, so called black people were subject to laws restricting their freedom of movement and residence. Section 10 of Native Laws Amendment Act, 54 of 1952 required that a black person could only reside in a city like Cape Town if they could prove that they had been born there, lived continuously for fifteen years or more or had continuously worked for the same employer for a period of ten years or more. A ‘pass’ was a document required for lawful movement into, out of, or within a specified area; and had to be produced on demand by an authorised person. Failure to produce a pass constituted an offence. The passbook indicated the status of each person and had to be carried by black people at all times and regularly renewed.

Much of our tumultuous past should not be celebrated but should be acknowledged and engaged on as lessons of history, never to be repeated again, so together we can heal in a spirit of reconciliation as one nation, united in our diversity.  Undoubtedly, the Langa Pass Office and Court possess high historical significance. The history of the site holds importance in the community, in the pattern of South Africa's history and has strong and special association with the life or work of a person, group or organisation of importance. The Langa Pass Office is also significant in its association and role with the dompas system in the history of South Africa. Evidently, The Langa Pass Office therefore bears significance in the memory of South Africa’s history and acknowledges its role and contribution to our democratic society as experienced today. 

The Provincial Heritage Site status will communicate clearly and definitively that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focussed conservation attention from all parties. Provincial Heritage Site status immediately provides the full protection to these sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999). This is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as we can all agree that the value of the Langa Pass Office lies in its historical nature, amplified by its socio-political significance. 

In closing, to emphasize the importance of protecting sites that hold cultural and historical significance, we must highlight that these sites have a rich history to the province but also to the communities where they are situated. In many instances, the sites hold narratives detailing the resilient spirit of the people of our province and country at large. 

I look forward to collaboratively sharing the significance of the newly officiated Provincial Heritage Site of the Langa Pass Office. I thank all who had a hand in the approval of the Provincial Heritage Site status bestowed upon ERF 661 that is the Langa Pass Office. We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder as you have contributed to a community’s sense of place and purpose and unleashed its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape.

The Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport will continue in our proactive efforts to consultatively transform the heritage landscape of the province so that it is more inclusive of all who call it home. 

I thank you.  

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171