KEVIN WINTER – 10 NOVEMBER 2021
The Liesbeek River is living symbol of a South Africa characterised by land dispossession, heritage loss, irreparable damage to ecosystems, accompanied by significant social and political conflict, and risk to water security and climate change. But the river is under siege again by development along its banks, writes Dr Kevin Winter of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Future Water Institute.
The Liesbeek River flows through some of the oldest suburbs of Cape Town. Only a few sections of the river channel would be recognisable to the Khoi and San people who lived in the valley in precolonial times. The same could be said of many urban landscapes, but in the case of the Liesbeek, the significance is not only about what has changed, but how it has changed.
About 70% of the river is modified by canalisation, which has altered its physical form and shape. But the physical appearance today hides a history of change and regret…