Reclaim the City supporters and volunteers camp out at the red Open House on the corner of Long and Dorp streets in a 48-hour protest against the sale of the Tafelberg property site in Sea Point to private developers. Picture: David Ritchie
Cape Town - The legal wrangle over the Tafelberg site in Sea Point may continue to rage after the Western Cape government delivered a blow to activists who had been campaigning for the property be made available for the development of affordable housing.

The provincial cabinet on Wednesday decided to proceed with the R135 million sale of the land to the Phyllis Jowell Day School in Camps Bay following the conclusion of a public participation process. Reclaim the City, an organisation which had been at the forefront of the battle for affordable housing in the inner city, described the decision as “unjust and an insult to black and coloured working-class people throughout Cape Town”.

“We will never accept the stripping of our well-located public land - land that could and should be used for affordable housing - to private entities,” Daneel Knoetze, a spokesperson, said on Wednesday.

“We are planning a robust response, after consultation with our lawyers, housing experts and our supporters,” he said.

Provincial ANC spokesperson Cameron Dugmore said: “We will also be seeking a meeting with the Phyllis Jowell Day School, to request them, in the public interest and in support of social housing for the domestic workers of Sea Point and others, to withdraw from the sale.”

The sale of the property was initially halted in May after activists from Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi petitioned the Western Cape High Court to intervene. The public participation process, as ordered by the court, concluded last month.

Premier Helen Zille’s spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, said the cabinet resolved that the Tafelberg site was “not ideally suited to affordable housing, especially as the state subsidy cannot be utilised there under current national policy”.

Mpofu said “all relevant factors” were considered, including the constitution and “revenue raising measures currently placed on provinces”.

As possible alternatives, the provincial government announced two sites that it said would be earmarked to include affordable housing. Mpofu said the cabinet had issued an instruction for affordable housing to be included as a condition in the release of the Helen Bowden Nurses Home property, situated near the V&A Waterfront.

The Woodstock Hospital site was the other piece of property which would be enlisted.

“With this decision, Premier Helen Zille’s government has missed a critical opportunity to commit to build affordable housing in the Cape Town inner city... They have shown a deep contempt for the principle of using public land to reverse apartheid spatial planning,” Knoetze said. 

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Cape Argus