The Ficus Benghalensis Banyan Tree, which is found on the premises of Berea Church in Phoenix, is classified as one of the National Heritage sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Phoenix Sun reports.
The tree was planted as far back as 1860 by the indentured labourers brought from India.
Berea Church’s Stanley Govender said the tree is used to serve as a meeting grounds for resolving disputes and resident matters.
In 2009, the tree was on the brink of being destroyed by developers, but this was brought to a halt by residents, community leaders and councillors.
Today, declared a heritage site, the tree has been cordoned off, fenced and maintained by the eThekwini Municipality’s department of parks and gardens.
Berea Church has also been instrumental in maintaining the tree, and has been utilising the unique heritage site for church celebratory events, including Easter and Christmas.
“Twice a year, we use the tree to have a theme park where families get to come together and enjoy the beautiful aura whilst socialising under the tree. We generally invite community members to come for the gatherings and share their memories under this tree of great historical significance,” he said.
According to Govender, the unique tree is the first of its kind in South Africa and holds special heritage significance, especially to Phoenix residents.