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Fishermen's Cottages, Hotagterklip
Struisbaai, Western Cape

Date:n.d.
Type:Cottage
Style:Cape Dutch
Status:Extant

Declared a national monument on 10 April 1981 vide Government Notice No. 770, as published in Government Gazette No. 7541.

Significance as gazetted

This property consists of nine fishermen's cottages which are worthy of preservation in view of various architectural and historical considerations.

Concise history

Around 1980 the then Cape Provincial Administration issued a moratorium on coastal development. One of the direct results of this moratorium was the donation of 9 fisherman’s cottages at Hotagterklip (now part of the town Struisbaai) to the then National Monuments Council (NMC) in 1980. These properties were inherited by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) when the NMC ceased to exist in 1999.

The date of origin of the fishing community of Hotagterklip is not known. The beaches of the Cape Coast have served as larders for man since time immemorial. The many fish traps and middens that dot the coast are testament to the riparian heritage of the area. These houses originally housed Coloured fishermen. These were forcibly evicted under the Group Areas Act of 1950.

The name Hotagterklip literally means 'towards the left behind the rock', 'hotagter' being a term traditionally used to describe the left rear ox in a team of oxen pulling an ox wagon. Eric Vertue furthers the explanation of the name (Vertue; 53) by associating the name with the idiomatic Afrikaans expression 'Hy kry dit hotagter' meaning that someone is having a tough time. The name can thus be construed to refer to the rocky ridge on which the houses are built as a place of suffering.

The houses are constructed of rough stone with reed (Chondropetalum tectorum) roofs. Typically the kitchen fireplace(s) is built on the outside of one of the gable walls as a "kommyntjie". This device is typical of Cape architecture until the arrival of the English at the Cape in 1806. The whole was white-washed. Architecturally they form part of the larger Cape-Dutch family, having the same material and technology employed in their construction. Their simple and humble dwellings speak eloquently of the humble peoples that of need constructed them using locally available materials and minimising the economic expenditure required to build and maintain these dwellings. This is a threatened typology with few other remaining ensembles as coherent as the one at Hotagterklip of which the (SAHRA) owned houses form the largest part.

Eric Vertue, writing in 1976 describes the houses as being abandoned and ruinous. This was their state of preservation when transferred to the NMC.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.