City in bid to close Cape academy

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Children_Shadows1 INLSA

Cape Town – Owners of a soccer academy operating at a school’s sports ground are being hauled to court by the City of Cape Town because they defied notices to stop operating a business illegally.

The city has applied for an interdict to prevent the African Brothers Football Academy operating a business in which they charge companies using five-a-side courts at the Gardens Commercial High School sports field.

It says this contravenes zoning scheme regulations as the premises has been classified for sports development.

Some homeowners adjacent to the field have also complained to the city about bright lights and loud noise coming from the sports field at night.

The city gave the academy’s co-founder Craig Hepburn until March last year to stop operating as a business, reduce noise levels or vacate the property but that has not happened.

Instead Hepburn has submitted an application to have the premises rezoned, but says it has been “passed around”.

The academy uses the sports field and its vacant clubhouse with the school governing body’s permission.

The city filed papers at the Western Cape High Court on December 21, mayco member for economic, environmental and spatial planning Belinda Walker said.

A date for a hearing has not been set down as the academy, which plans to oppose the interdict, is yet to file papers.

Hepburn said his legal team was still drafting their opposing papers.

“We have taken people off the streets, provided them with facilities and employed some of them. We have never asked for anything from the government, but they want to kick us out.

“It is completely ridiculous. We are providing opportunities for kids here. It is fine, they can shut us down, but what are they going to do for the kids who don’t have facilities at their schools?” Hepburn said.

He said money made by the business went back to the running of the academy as it had limited funding. The academy had spent about R4 million on the facility, mostly on repairs.

Walker said a number of schools in the city were being used for sports development for disadvantaged communities, but all have done so legally.

She said the city had received Hepburn’s application, but it had been incomplete, with information about the commercial aspect of the academy outstanding.

Hepburn had been notified, but was yet to provide the information.

“The city would like to resolve the matter, but it must be done legally and fairly, in the interests of all role-players,” Walker said. – Cape Times

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