Heritage Legislation

Jeppestown, to the east of the Central Business District of the city, is one of Johannesburg’s oldest residential suburbs, proclaimed soon after gold was discovered in 1886. It was originally a neat little suburb for the middle classes of early Johannesburg. Most of the houses and small blocks of flats are now in desperate need of a coat of paint and repairs, but look like they were originally comfortable places in which to live, well-designed and part of a sustainable, liveable neighbourhood.

There are many heritage objects housed in State aided or supported entities such as museums, governmental departments, and other state organisations. These institutions are responsible for safe-guarding and looking after the heritage objects in their custodianship on behalf of the public. Heritage objects portray material evidence of the people and their environment, as such, they should be cared for and conserved, due to their lasting value and provision of evidence of the origins of South African society.

In raising this issue I wish to point out that many attempts by both De Rust Heritage and the Joint Heritage Permit Committee in Oudtshoorn comprising Heritage Oudtshoorn Erfenis and the De Rust Heritage Conservation Association have largely proved unsuccessful in getting the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality to prosecute guilty parties over a number of years.

In order for an archaeological or palaeontological site to be declared a National Heritage Site, it must first be Graded as being of appropriate national cultural significance. At the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), our approach is that the Grading process should encompasses the lion’s share of the work in assessing a site’s significance in order to compile an extensive Grading nomination dossier.

The local controversy over the development of the public space at Maiden's Cove on the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town has been brought to national attention in an article by the distinguished retired Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs. “The Secret Weapon of Maiden's Cove for All” (Daily Maverick, 4 September 2018), hones in on some of the most complex and persistent challenges in the heritage sector: How to define heritage? Whose heritage is it?

Heritage encompasses all that we experience in everyday life. It is far more fluid in how it is experienced by society than what we perceive it to be. It is where ideas of individual identity and the role of nation states connect. It is who we are as individuals and how we relate to one another in society.

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