Provincial heritage status for civic centre

Khoi warrior Hui !Gaeb !Huni!na !Gukhoeb, known by his slave name, Bradley van Sitters, from Seawinds, and Warrior Gama !Kham-aob, known as Arthur Koeberg, from Westlake.

Founding members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) are calling for Rocklands civic centre to be declared a national heritage
site.

This comes as the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport marked it as a provincial heritage site with the unveiling of a plaque on the 36th anniversary of the
UDF launch yesterday, Tuesday August 20.

The UDF, launched at Rocklands civic centre in 1983, was an anti-apartheid body that incorporated many anti-apartheid organisations to oppose the apartheid government and its policies.

The movement was disbanded in 1991 but its existence is celebrated almost every year.

Activist and one of the founding members, Veronica Simmers, who was a marshal on the day (36 years ago) recalled not being able to enter the civic centre, which was packed to the rafters.

She called on all of the volunteers, hosts, activists and speakers of that time to pack the civic centre again and welcome the national heritage status of the Rocklands hall next year.

Erf 11553, including Rocklands civic centre, the library, the Memorial Square and the community healthcare centre, has both political and social significance in that the civic centre 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.

Anroux Marais, MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, said the value of the site lies in its political and social nature. “It is this outstanding significance for the memorialisation and acknowledgement of civil organisations and their role and contribution to our democratic society,” she said.

Ms Marais said with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape and the City of Cape Town’s facilitation, the social and political significance of the Rocklands civic centre would now officially be acknowledged and would rightfully be promoted in the public domain as a provincial heritage site.

Founding member, Allan Boesak, whose rousing speech at the launch had the rallying cry, “We want all of our rights, we want them here and we want them now!”, thanked Ms Simmers for again raising the issue that Rocklands civic centre was a symbol of national resistance.

“The UDF existed to change the country. It worked to liberate all our people,” he said.