“Baptism in living water is a very important part of our religion – it goes back to the time of Jesus. Every Sunday we come to Princess Vlei to baptise new converts. We travel all this way because this is natural water, with spiritual power.
“The proposed mall is a very serious concern for us. The local and provincial government must give us respect, they must have the decency to consider our views. A shopping mall should be the last thing to think about for that place.”
This is what Victor Booi from the Church of God and Saints of Christ said. Booi was at a meeting recently of about 20 religious leaders called by the Princess Vlei Forum.
The meeting was opened by Reverend John Oliver (above, who sadly passed away earlier this week) from the Princess Vlei Forum and the Western Cape Religious Forum. Oliver said that the intention was to create a pressure group to send a clear message to the authorities that Princess Vlei is a sacred site with powerful memory and history for people of faith. To build a shopping mall there would trample on the rights of the faith community and would upset divine balance.
Ebrahim Karriem, from the United Ulama Community, commented on the importance of protecting environmental sites, which play a big role in uplifting the surrounding communities.
The group resolved to call another meeting on 14 July, and to invite all leaders of churches who baptise at the vlei, as well as representatives of any other organisation whose members have an interest in conserving this spiritual site.
The Princess Vlei Forum is committed to working with all interested groups to develop the site in a way that honours our natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, and to exploring what facilities are needed to make baptism more comfortable and dignified.