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A prominent Cape Town attorney is challenging a land restitution deal in the upmarket suburb of Bishopscourt.
The deal followed claims by former residents and their descendants of Protea Village, a coloured neighbourhood on the edge of Kirstenbosch, that was cleared in the apartheid era.
Attorney William Booth, a Bishopscourt resident, has asked the Land Claims Court to nullify an agreement which has already been signed by the minister of land affairs.
Forty-six of the Protea Village claimants have opted for financial compensation, of R17 500 each, but the remaining 86 want to be allowed to go back to live in the area.
The Land Claims Commission plans to settle most of them on Erf 242, owned by the state.
The rest are to be housed on Erf 212, a public open space known as the arboretum, which the City of Cape Town has apparently promised to hand over to the commission free of charge.
Booth, who lives in Winchester Avenue bordering on Erf 212, is supported in his challenge by a trust and a company which have properties in Bishopscourt Drive.
He said in papers that there was no indication that any of the claimants seeking restoration had ever lived on Erf 212. There had been a host of irregularities in the way the deal was handled, he said.
The minister of land affairs and the Western Cape land claims commissioner had acted unreasonably and beyond their powers, failed to apply their minds properly, and erred in law.
Booth said he and his co-applicants did not oppose the Protea Village land claim in principle, and had no objection to the claimants being restored to the Bishopscourt/Fernwood area.
However, the arboretum was a valuable public open space and had long been used as a recreational area by residents.
"It should remain as such an area, for the benefit of all surrounding residents, including any Protea Village claimants restored to Erf 242," he said. Erf 212 was by any realistic estimate worth "well over R70-million".
Senior counsel for the minister and commissioner Michael Donen said in heads of argument that following a public participation process, that the local residents' associations had supported the claim and had no objection to housing on Erf 212.
Booth and the other applicants "therefore stand alone in obstructing a constitutionally endorsed resolution", he said.
Donen said Protea Village residents had drawn water from a spring on Erf 21.
Argument in the matter began in the Land Claims Court in Cape Town yesterday.