Camps Bay residents shocked as construction plans approved to transform the 12 Apostles Mountain Range

By Terry MacKassey, Special Correspondent, TheCapeRobyn

An urgent application is to be heard in the Cape Supreme Court today as the Camps Bay Ratepayers Association, supported by other interest groups, seek to interdict the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, Tourism South Africa and an international construction consortium from commencing work on plans approved last week by the Planning Committee for a R174.2 Billion Rand proposal to turn the 12 Apostles mountains behind Camps Bay into our own Mount Rushmore.

Residents were notified by registered mail two days ago that over the next 34 years, Camps Bay will be transformed forever.  In a construction timetable that will take 20 years longer than it took to create Mount Rushmore, the images of 17 major figures in biblical literature are to be carved from the rocks overlooking Camps Bay, all the way to Llandudno.   The project is expected to be completed in phases, with the first 4 biblical figures of the Old Testament completed by October 2032.  The figure heads of the following biblical figures will be carved out:  Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus Christ, plus all 12 of his disciples. In addition, a mosque is to be constructed overlooking Llandudno. 

The DA run Western Cape Government has agreed to the construction proposal.  The lease signed between the Western Cape Government, SANParks and the consortium will run for 99 years, with an option to renew for an additional 99 years. Specific details of the lease have not been disclosed.

The main contractor appointed is the company owned by the descendants of Glutzon Borglum, who with his son Lincoln designed and oversaw the carving of the 60-foot sculptures of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln in the cliff face of the mountains in Keystone, Dakota, home to the famous Black Hills. 

Viewing fee to start at R500.00 per visitor

Initial works to extend the Pipe Track into a road that can handle heavy mining and excavation trucks will begin as soon as the coronavirus lockdown is lifted. The road works are expected to cause considerable disruption to traffic over Kloof Nek Road for approximately two years and may require all Camps Bay residents to use the Sea Point route to get to and from town.  A viewing centre and restaurant will be constructed on the South side of Lion’s Head above the Camps Bay for the best views of transformed mountain range. Steel for the project will be supplied from Saldanha Steel, which will see jobs being secured in the steel sector as an added bonus to the project.  Lafarge Cement will be using the sports fields of the German School in Tamboerskloof as a depot to store cement and aggregate.

The completed project is expected to attract 4-6 million visitors per year, many times more than currently visit Camps Bay.  Entrance to Camps Bay via Kloof Nek Road and the main and Kloof Road, Clifton, will be via a gate similar to the gate at the entrance to Cape Point.  Residents of Camps Bay will be exempt from fees, but all other visitors will be charged.  Entry is expected to start at R500.00 per person once the initial phase of construction is complete, rising eventually to an inflation adjusted R2,000.00 per person once all the buttresses have been transformed. 

Counter revolutionary objections

In her replying affidavit to the papers filed, the Minister for Tourism dismissed objections, saying that the decision was consistent with the long term goals of creating employment in a sustainable tourism setting.  She dismissed the objections of Ratepayers and fringe religious groups as being counter revolutionary and atheistic.   “This is a project that will provide an estimated 25,000 construction and tourism jobs for the next 2,000 years.  And God will be very happy”, she said.  “Yes, we are aware that erosion will eventually eat the Apostles, but we will be able to create a tribute to the great biblical heritage of the Western World, and it will surpass Mount Rushmore in the Black Hill of Dakota.  Soon, when people visit, we will be able to say – there, there are the real 12 Apostles!”.

Professor I Ment, Head UCT’s Geology Department has confirmed that their geological survey approved the technical aspects of the project.  He said: “Our studies show that the 18 buttresses that actually make up the 12 Apostles Range confirm that the rock interface between the Pre-Cambrian Malmesbury Group, the Table Mountain Group, and the Granite, such as can be seen at Queens Beach, makes the perfect mixture for carving out the planned busts of each of the Biblical figures.  “Charles Darwin would have loved to see this”, he added, referring to Darwin’s visit to Cape Town circa 1836.

Old Testament, New Testament, and the Qur’an 

So which figures will be carved out?  The United Orthodox Synagogue, The Muslim Judicial Council, and the Anglican and Catholic Synod’s reached agreement last week that the first buttress nearest Lion’s Head (Kloof buttress) would be of Abraham, followed by Isaac, Jacob and Moses in that order (Fountain, Porcupine, Jubilee and Barrier buttresses).  Next would follow Jesus and the 12 Apostles, total 17.  Since images or depictions of Muhammad and other Koranic figures may not be shown according to Islam, it was agreed in a compromise deal that a mosque could be built on the last buttress nearest Llandudno.   All groups agreed that 10% of the proceeds of tourism revenue from the completed project would be split equally between them.  Fringe religious groups are threatening a direct application to the Constitutional Court, to be included in the deal, claiming religious discrimination. The objections of the ANC Women’s league were withdrawn after the consortium agreed to construct a 400-foot high bust of a smiling Winnie Mandela on Devil’s Peak, the viewing of which will be free to all, and visible from as far away as Paarl and Somerset West. 

An Environmental Impact Study has approved all aspects of the project.  Concern for dassies [Procavia capensis] that they would be affected by noise was unfounded, according to the EIS that was tabled at the meeting.   “They seem to have got used to humans trampling all over their natural habitat”, was the conclusion of Professor Hu Xais, from the University of Beijing, who conducted the EIS on behalf of the consortium.  He is unfortunately currently self-isolating and couldn’t be reached for further comment.  Mr Robbie Racoon, the manging director of G & R Anite LLP, the main US consortium contractor, who came down from the Black Hills of Dakota to sign the lease and other contracts, refused to comment.

Further updates on the hearing will follow once a judge has been allocated to hear the matter. 

April 1, 2020.  Life in the time of Covid-19 – not so funny at all. 

Stay home.  Stay well.  Stay safe.

This column by Terry MacKassey,  Special Correspondent @TheCapeRobyn