We, the undersigned citizens of Cape Town declare ourselves in support of the People’s Development Plan for Princess Vlei and object most strongly to the rezoning of the banks of Princess Vlei to allow the building of a double volume shopping mall with close on 600 parking bays. We hereby petition all authorities that have power of decision‐making about this valuable, eco‐ sensitive and culturally significant public open space to reject the proposed shopping mall development and review the extension of zoning decision made by MEC Bredell of the Western Cape Provincial Government. We draw attention to the Cultural heritage aspect in terms of the UN Convention on Intangible Heritage, which compels States to respect the heritage of indigenous people, and in this respect we refer to the traditions of the First Nation people, The Khoi and The San and the connectivity of the descendants of the Khoisan people to the Vlei. The banks of the vlei also host some very rare Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, which we feel compelled to protect. We hereby object to the sale of the land and support the PEOPLE’S PLAN FOR PRINCESS VLEI.
The Princess Vlei is the first vlei in a chain of wetlands that runs through Grassy Park, Cape Town, purifying the water before it runs into the sea. It is a relatively small vlei, but it has a big history, and has long been treasured by the many citizens who have enjoyed its beauty and tranquility. But now it is fighting for its life, as it faces the threat of a proposed development: a double volume shopping mall, car park and taxi rank.
The Princess Vlei was named after a Khoisan Princess, who (legend tells us) was abducted by Portuguese sailors while bathing in its waters. During the years of apartheid, it became one of the few natural areas that "coloured" people could visit, after they were forcibly removed by the government to housing estates on the Cape Flats. Though loved by the people, it was neglected by the authorities, and became further degraded when a road was built through it with little regard for conserving its ecology.
However, for several years, local residents, environmentalists and concerned citizens have been actively involved in a project called "Dressing the Princess". This aims to restore the vlei to its former glory, and to create a much needed place of natural beauty and serenity that is accessible to the surrounding communities. The Princess Vlei Forum (PVF) was formed to spearhead the fight against the mall, and to help to formulate the vision of the vlei as a living asset for present and future generations.
Why should we fight for the Princess?
* The Princess Vlei has a unique cultural and historical value. It is also a site with strong spiritual value for many African Baptismal churches, who have been using its waters for baptisms for many decades.
* It is one of few natural areas accessible to people on the Cape Flats.
* It offers biodiversity and a critical wetland.
* The community has shown the kind of development it really wants in the People's Plan.
* Local and Provincial government cannot ignore public opinion. The City is proposing to sell YOUR land and your children's heritage to a private developer. Public space belongs to all of us.
For more information, go to http://princessvlei.org/.