New heritage council appointed

The new council of Heritage Western Cape was inaugurated on Thursday October 24. Heritage Western Cape, a provincial resources authority, seeks to identify, protect and conserve the rich and diverse heritage resources of the Western Cape, including its landscapes, sites, artefacts, buildings and structures.

The 11-member council includes heritage experts and practitioners, archaeologists, architects and lawyers.

Heritage Western Cape chief executive officer, Mxolisi Dlamuka, said he looked forward to robust discussions and platforms with communities about the heritage and cultures of the Western Cape.

He said one of the biggest challenges that Heritage Western Cape currently faces is the turn-around time for decision-making on building applications and altering of buildings older than 60 years.

Currently, it takes about a month for a decision to be made, but each case has its own merits and needs to be looked at thoroughly.

“I am hoping that we could create a mechanism for the authority and its committee to take decisions more swiftly.”

He also said they are hoping to do fund-raising to strengthen their internal capacity and employ more people. They are currently funded by the provincial government.

The newly elected chairperson of the Heritage Western Cape council, Bongani Mgijima, is a director at Stellenbosch Museum.

He said he has been in the culture and heritage sector for almost 20 years, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree, a diploma in heritage and museum studies, and a Master’s degree in public administration.

Mr Mjimba said the council will focus on advising the committees within Heritage Western Cape, as well as the turn-around time for building and development applications.

“We also want to use our role for social transformation. Everyone can identify with heritage, and we can use this to build inclusivity, and package our cultures to share with our tourists.

“As chair, I hope to co-ordinate and steer this committee in a way that makes a significant contribution to society, and implement the laws in a sustainable and fair manner.”

The other members are Ron Anthony Martin, Stefan Ethan de Kock, Mandla Mdludlu, Ceciline Li-Zaan Braaf Muller, Vuyiseka Myakala, Jason Michael Knight, Emmylou Rabe Bailey, Stuart Edward Hermansen, Graham Jacobs and Katherine Elizabeth Dumbrell.

The MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, said the role that the council has been appointed contributes to the identification, protection and conservation of the rich and diverse heritage resources of the Western Cape.

“The Western Cape has a rich history and heritage which must be protected, however, we need to strike a balance between preserving heritage, and encouraging a region and an economy with a modern future.

“Ensuring this balance would allow vital new builds and upgrades, creating jobs and economic growth in our region.”

Premiere Alan Winde said: “What is our heritage if we don’t preserve it? If we lost this, we lose our uniqueness in the world.

“We need to look at the melting pot of cultures in our city and create hope and growth for our future generations, but also see to our preservation. We need to look at that concept of balance.”

The council’s term officially started on Friday November 1 and will end on October 31, 2022.