Report Back on the HWC Hearing

  1. The meeting was of the full Heritage W Cape Council plus officials plus IAPs. About 40 people attended. It was chaired by the HWC chair Mandla Mdludlu. I think he was quite fair. The new CEO was present but did not say a word.

  1. There was an agenda of four main items. We were number 3. They wasted a lot of time on Number 1 arguing whether the consultation over declaring the Athlone power station a PHS should or shouldn’t include the traditional circumcision site on the land next door and overlapping with the power station erf. Who is the lawyer for the City – none other than Nick Smith, the LLPT’s lawyer… get that!
    [as an aside, how exactly is it a done deal that a single building in Athlone can so easily be put on a PHS grading agenda when we have been fighting for years to get TRUP graded…?]

  1. Item 2 was a kind of formality for a heritage application in Napier near Bredasdorp

  1. Item 3 was our submission

  • Firstly, the original agenda listed it as application for Provincial Heritage Status for the River Club. Seemingly a clerical error, corrected in the main agenda for the meeting

  • What was presented was a surprise. Instead of processing our application and initiating the formal consultative process, the IACOM (not sure where it was decided, actually) recommended that the application be submitted to SAHRA because TRUP is most likely of national significance. So, what was presented to HWC Council was the idea of referring it to SAHRA. Marc, myself, Tauriq, Greg Fick all spoke to the importance of HWC taking responsibility as the competent heritage authority for the province fulfilling its provincial mandate to protect provincial heritage. I pointed out the multiple imminent threats, because of other planning processes, and that when faced with imminent threats, HWC tried a protection order. As Tauriq put it, they should be taking up the cudgel and saying they are with us on our mission to world heritage.

  • Then, the usual suspect appeared on the stage with their disinformation:

                                                               i.      Gerber (DPWT) trying to make out like it was all too confusing to do anything because HWC hadn’t consulted them anyway in deciding to refer it to SAHRA; also claiming the same nonsense that was in the TR LSDF HIA (rejected by HWC in November) about dispersed heritage – implying not everything was PHS status.

                                                             ii.      Smith (LLPT) trying to belittle the IAPs (he named Tauriq, myself, Marc as speaking flowery language) and then raising the usual procedural stuff.

                                                           iii.      Nigel Titus – a great disappointment; also joined the bandwagon of process objections. This was the same tactic used by LLPT, City, DWPT and DEADP in the Provisional Protection Order Appeal – their arguments were thrown out in the final directive, but it’s clear that they now how to obstruct a process.

                                                           iv.      But it didn’t work – I hope so, because the responses from all of us was, there is no reason for HWC not to proceed with a Provincial application while the matter is also referred to SAHRA. Heidi from SAHRA was in the meeting and agree with that point – so there is nothing to stop HWC proceeding.

                                                             v.      Interestingly, Smith was asked to apologise for his demeaning language which not fitting for a public event where we are dealing with matter of heritage – he did so in the most perfunctory way. But I think he was trying to rile us up and distract us into fighting with him so as to stop the provincial application. So, in that he failed.

                                                           vi.      The Council agreed to go into a closed session at the end of the meeting to finalise. I hope they will follow through on the suggestion, supported by SAHRA, that they proceed with a provincial grading process, whilst simultaneously seeking National grading via SAHRA.

                                                          vii.      What was abundantly clear was that there was no question in HWC’s view that TRUP was of high significance and warranted grading as a Provincial Heritage resource, and no opinions expressed to the contrary (except hidden in Gerber’s mutterings). In fact, most of the HWC appeared fairly convinced it could be a national  resource.

                                                        viii.      But the issue is whether HWC moves on the provincial grading. Let’s hope that closed session agrees.

  1. The last item was to do with BoKaap. Weirdly, Steven Townsend pitches up on the side of the BoKaap civic, while Smith is on the side of the owner of the property who wants to build something seemingly ugly and inappropriate, and opposed by BoKaap Civic. Mike Scurr, whom Naomi was going to approach to help us on the River Club heritage affidavit, lines up with the property owner, alongside Smith. Just goes to show …

So, at the end of the day, I think we made a strong set of points. What is clear is that

  • HWC thinks TRUP is at least Provincial Heritage Status

  • They were all set to refer it up to SAHRA but have now a proposal on their agenda to parallel process the provincial heritage application with a SAHRA referral, confirmed as perfectly OK by a SAHRA official.

  • The City and LLPT and DPWT will try to obstruct this with objections due to parallel processes that they have initiated. But if HWC stick to their rules, this process must go ahead and it will be hard for them not to grant TRUPA provincial heritage status, given the evidence and given their previous positions. Harry Houdini will be nothing compared to any HWC escape from PHS grading of the TRUP.

  • More likely is a long process of attrition by LLPT and their assistants in various government department using process complaints to block. Next time they accuse the OCA of a hidden agenda in snarling up their Water License, I will quote Smith back to his face.

Marc and Tauriq can add

Let’s hear what transpires