Dear Adv Van Deventer (Mayor of Drakenstein),
I refer to your letter published in the Paarl Post in respect of the area from which sections of the population were forcibly removed, commonly referred to as the Kraal. This was only one of a number of areas including the Ou Tuin, Market Street , School Street, Paarl Station and Berg Street from which people were removed due to the application of the Group Areas Act.
The Drakenstein Heritage Foundation (D.H.F.) as hosts of the annual symposium of the Heritage Association of South Africa (H.A.S.A) held in Paarl in October 2012, in accordance with H.A.S.A policy, and in conjunction with leaders of the remaining members of the removed communities, commemorated these events by the erection of the traditional blue plaque to mark the sites of the forced removals in 4 of these 5 areas. The event was highlighted by a commemorative function where representatives related the circumstances under which their families were removed, as well as the effect of this on their and their children’s future. The accounts of the removals were moving, frank, and delivered in the spirit of reconciliation, far beyond the DHF expectations. Those present at this occasion will forever be influenced by not only the accounts, but by the manner in which they were delivered.
In respect of the Kraal, a representative from the area recounted how having been removed with little or no notice from his family home he today, when he waits for his daughter at the railway station, stands under the tree that grew in his backyard in an area which is desolate and undeveloped, and wonders why they were removed.
The DHF In response to our mayor’s letter must point out that we have received only opposition from the current council, and have despite two meetings between the organisations, not been able to receive permission ( or a response to our request) to erect the plaques on land and buildings owned by the council. Currently the plaque for Die Kraal is fixed to a commercial building at the bottom of Klein Drakenstein Road, and for Die Ou Tuin to a commercial building which adjoins the parking area of the civic centre, as permission to affix it to the municipal building was refused. The Market Street plaque has not been erected as the municipality has steadfastly failed to respond (despite two meetings with council) to the request to fix it to the municipal fire department or allow a separate stone base to be erected at the roadside.
Fortunately, the developers of the day hospital in School Street and the committee of De Poort not only allowed but celebrated the respective plaques to be fixed to their properties.
The DHF calls upon the mayor to motivate her council to allow the fixing of the plaques to both the civic centre as well as the fire station building and to incorporate the plaque in a prominent position when the Kraal site is developed .
Len Raymond for the DHF and H.A.S.A.