“Don’t rob us, don’t rob our children and don’t rob our grandchildren of the beauty that’s been given to us…”
community member Edward Copperfield
“The vlei is more than the water, the vlei is more than the vegetation around it, the vlei has a soul. And it gives expression to our souls, and to what we believe in… ”
Philip Bam, Grassy Park resident, PVF member and community activist
The Princess story…
Thanks to BIG FISH for this video. The film has won an award at the Lesotho Film Festival
The Princess Vlei is the gateway to the wetland system that runs through Grassy Park, purifying the water before it runs into the sea. The Vlei 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 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.
- We don’t need another mall!