Castle clean-up

The Castles moat is in the spotlight as rubbish is piling up.

A few social media posts about the state of the moat at the Castle of Good Hope has been turned into a proactive cleaning project.

The Castle’s moat was put in the spotlight because of the rubbish piling up in the body of water.

This prompted the Castle Control Board to put out a call for people to take ownership of heritage sites and join a clean-up of the moat tomorrow, Friday March 1, at 9am.

Faith Mtabati, who manages social media for the Castle of Good Hope, said the post was upsetting as the staff who were inside the perimeters of the space were associated with the dirt. “However, it’s not dirt coming from the castle. The rubbish isn’t birthed from the moat. Litter is a city-wide problem, and the rubbish blows into the moat and the castle.”

She said as a person spending most of her time in the city, she felt that she wanted to do something to help the situation. “We are inviting people to put their phones down, roll up their sleeves, and come and get involved. We cannot just complain and not be proactive. We need to be part of the solution. If anyone has some ideas or expertise they can give to help us find long-term solutions, we welcome them to visit us and share ideas.”

The CEO of the Castle Control Board, Calvyn Gilfellan, said on the first day of every month, the castle staff will make a call for people to join them in getting their hands dirty in the moat.

He said while there is a team who works there daily, the strong south-easter wind blows litter from all over the city centre, where it nestles in the nearest body of water – the moat.

“The Castle of Good Hope is situated in the heart of the city centre and is not isolated from the problems in the city, such as drug users and dealers, homelessness, vagrancy and vast amounts of litter.”

And while he acknowledges that the moat can become quite an unsightly mess, he appealed to people to turn their complaints into something positive and proactive.

“We want people to take back their heritage. The Castle is here for everyone. We need to protect it. We don’t want the Castle to embarrass people, and we don’t want people to embarrass us. We need to try to better it by finding a constructive solution.”

Mr Gilfellon with the Castle Control Board has since put together a team of unemployed people to come and help clean the moat and the Castle grounds everyday. He said depending on how much cleaning is required, the team ranges from two to 10 people.

Two of the workers at the castle, Kiyamudien Harris, from Salt River, and Allen Booysen, from Eerste River, sit in a little boat while fishing rubbish out of the moat with nets.

Mr Harris and Mr Booysen said they got involved in the project when they were called up by the Castle board after sending their CVs to the board.

Mr Booysen said keeping the Castle premises clean keeps them busy almost every day, as the wind blows the rubbish around. “We sometimes also find clothes in the moat on the side where the homeless sleep.”

The Castle has struggled with homeless people sleeping on its lawn for the past few years (“Homeless move back to area outside castle”, CapeTowner, March 1 2018).

Attempts to curb this has been made, however, Mr Gilfellon said there were plans in the pipeline to deal with this issue.

Mr Booysen said the work he did at the castle makes him proud as it is a tourist attraction, and it’s nice for tourists and visitors to come to a clean place.

“People can help by throwing their papers in the bin, or just keeping the space around them clean. If they do that, there will be less litter that lands up in the moat.”

Mr Harris said he was also proud and maintaining the castle puts food on the table at home. “I’m proud to be helping my family.”

Mr Gilfellon said they hope to eventually roll out the cleaning project to more spaces of heritage value around the city.

“The cleaning project is also a symbol of healing. The castle is the oldest colonial building in Cape Town, and we have a lot of bad history here. It only makes sense that the cleaning and spiritual cleansing project starts at the Castle of Good Hope and spreads out into a wider project in the near future.”

The clean-up project will take place on Friday March 1 at 9am at the Castle of Good Hope. All are welcome. For more information, or to get involved, contact Faith Mtabati at heritage@castleofgoodhope.co.za

People are encouraged to wear appropriate attire.