South Africa: MEC Anroux Marais Declares the Old Langa Pass Office a Provincial Heritage Site

press release

Minister Anroux Marais declared Erf 661, the old Langa Pass Office a Provincial Heritage Site as the official plaque was unveiled on Friday afternoon, 26 February 2021.

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.

Much of our painful and tumultuous past should be acknowledged and engaged on as lessons of history, never to be repeated again. In this way, we can together heal in a spirit of reconciliation as one nation, united in our diversity as we embrace our civil liberties as a new constitutional democracy.

In the keynote address Minister Marais said, "During our divided past, 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. This was an abhorrent policy which undermined the human rights of many South Africans.

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 painful 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 full protection to these sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999). This is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as the value of the Langa Pass Office lies in its historical nature, amplified by its socio-political significance.

It is important to protect sites that hold cultural and historical significance and we must continue to highlight that these sites have a rich history not only 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.

We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder who contributed to this 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.

Caption for attached photograph: From left: Acting CEO of Heritage Western Cape: Ms. Colette Scheermeyer; Activist and a Former Judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa: Judge Albie Sachs; Chairperson of the Interpretation, Grading and Inventories Committee: Mr. Ron Martin; Chairperson on the Heritage Western Cape Council: Adv. Mandla Mdludlu; City of Cape Town Councillor: Ronel Viljoen; Minister Anroux Marais; Chairperson of the Langa Heritage Foundation: Mr. Themba Nolutshungu

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