Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has added his voice to the thousands calling for the preservation of Princess Vlei.
In a statement released to the Princess Vlei Forum, the Archbishop said:
“I would like to express my support for the campaign to save the greater Princess Vlei area from the inappropriate development of a shopping mall, and for its protection in perpetuity as a nature and heritage park. Princess Vlei is a valuable place for citizens to come to be close to God and nature, to find peace and to build family and community. God has carefully crafted our universe; let us stop destroying our beautiful world for the sake of short-term profit. Let us use our laws to safeguard our natural and cultural heritage.”
The Princess Vlei Forum would like to call on Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia de Lille, and all those in authority, to pay heed to this call, and finally put a stop to the proposed development of a mall at Princess Vlei.
We welcome the recent recommendation by the Mayor’s office to withdraw the decision to rezone the space to allow commercial development on the Sea Point Promenade; to retain it as public open space and to protect it from commercial development. However, this decision comes in the wake of a protracted and expensive legal battle, financed by our taxes and by civil society. We are anxious to avoid similar expense in the fight to save Princess Vlei. Public-private funding could be used so much more constructively to transform this site into a world-class nature and heritage park.
On 28th August 2013, in reference to the decision made to maintain Sea Point seafront as Public Open Space, Alderman Patricia de Lille, said:
“Where we have the legacy of Apartheid spatial planning, we must grab all of the shared spaces we can to foster a new sense of community… As part of our commitment to being a Caring City that considers the views and wishes of all of our residents, I strongly advise Council to keep the space open for the enjoyment of present and future Capetonians. I hope that we will be able to set an example for creating combined spaces in the future by preserving those that we have in the here and now.”
Situated on the border between formerly white and ‘coloured’ areas, Princess Vlei is ideally located to build bridges between communities of different racial groups, both geographically and historically. It links us to the indigenous people who first lived in the Western Cape; it has long been a site for baptisms by churches from all of Cape Town’s black communities; and it is a much-loved gathering place for communities from surrounding areas. Before the Group Areas Act, landowners of all races lived on its banks. Through the work of the Princess Vlei Forum, people of all races, ages, and cultures have been brought together for recreational activities, prayer meetings and to plant fynbos and trees for future generations on the banks of the Vlei.
On Sunday September 22 at 2 pm, a Multifaith Prayer Meeting – with representation from Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Rasta, Bahai, Judaic and other faiths, as well as Khoisan cultural groups - will be held on the banks of Princess Vlei.
The vision of Princess Vlei Forum is driven by a desire to create a space that will build bridges and heal the past. This vision was presented in a proposal to the World Design Capital 2014 board, a proposal that has been shortlisted and put forward as a model design for a community driven project.
We call on Alderman de Lille to stand by her comments in her speech, to honour her commitment to creating a Caring City that considers the views and wishes of all of its residents, and to work with us and the community to make this vision a reality.