Minister Marais' Speech at Rocklands Community Complex Heritage Site unveiling
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
PROVINCIAL HERITAGE SITE PLAQUE UNVEILING: ROCKLANDS COMMUNITY COMPLEX
20 AUGUST 2019
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 11553: inclusive of the Rocklands Community Hall, the library, the Memorial Square and the Community Healthcare Centre in Mitchell’s Plain today.
At the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) 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 and the City of Cape Town’s facilitation, the political and social 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 socio-political significance of the Rocklands Community Complex can now be highlighted.
Mitchell’s Plain was established in the 1970s as a township to respond to the housing shortages of the so called coloured community. Its design was also part of the apartheid’s race-based spatial planning and Group Areas Act. As forced removals intensified in Cape Town, Mitchell’s Plain became a home for communities displaced from District Six.
The Rocklands Community Hall, the library, the Memorial Square and the Community Healthcare Centre has both political and social significance in that the community hall was built during the early 1980s and provided a convenient space for mass resistance and large scale political gatherings that were organised by anti-apartheid organisations.
Held at this iconic location, the meeting in which the UDF was established on this day in 1983 was the start of the largest socio-political movement that united South Africans from diverse backgrounds to fight against the injustices of apartheid.
Campaigning around issues of housing, education and the unjust status quo of the time, the UDF initially represented 500 organisations from all sectors of society. The Front’s eventual affiliates included trade unions, youth and students, women’s and religious groups, civic associations and political parties. Within a few years, it embraced almost 1000 affiliated groups.
Elected as the Front’s patron, and as discourse documents, Dr Alan Boesak believed that it was the spirit of the new group which provided its distinctiveness as spontaneity was one of the UDF’s strong points. Above all, he once said, there was the power of the UDF to inspire. Within a year, the UDF became a formidable organisation with support at levels and among people that no organisation in South Africa had achieved before. By 1985, the Front had created the beginnings of strong working relationships between community organisations, student movements and trade unions unified in the struggle against apartheid.
The value of the Rocklands community complex lies in its political and social nature and is of outstanding significance for the memorialisation and acknowledgement of civil organisations and their 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 focused 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 Rocklands community complex lies in its societal nature, amplified by its socio-political significance.
I look forward to collaboratively sharing the significance of the newly officiated Provincial Heritage Site of Erf 11553 at the Rocklands Community Hall. I thank all who had a hand in the approval of the Provincial Heritage Site status bestowed upon the Rocklands Community Complex. We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder as you have contributed to a community’s sense of place, belonging and purpose and unleashed its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape.
I thank you.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171