‘Aerotropolis’ planned for invaded Philippi land

Western Cape

Cape Town - The land illegally invaded in Philippi last week is destined to become the site of a significant new job-creator and economic hub which is part of a huge industrial development proposal.

The owner of Erf 145 and other private landowners in Philippi have an interdict from the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court preventing any illegal occupation or trespassing on the land.

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Cape Town - 140825 - Residents of Marikana are bracing for yet another round of evictions. They expect law enforcement, police and the Anti Land Invasion Unit to come on the 28th of August to break down their houses. The City says the residents are on private land earmarked for development. Reporter: Zodidi Dano Picture: David Ritchie (083 652 4951)Cape Town - 140825 - Residents of Marikana are bracing for yet another round of evictions. They expect law enforcement, police and the Anti Land Invasion Unit to come on the 28th of August to break down their houses. The City says the residents are on private land earmarked for development. Reporter: Zodidi Dano Picture: David Ritchie (083 652 4951)

The same applied to erfs 145, 20858, 135, 416, 586, 4115, 532, 589 and 143, as well as Farm 597/1. These parcels of land are all between Sheffield, Stock and Lansdowne roads, and together make up about 40 hectares.

The collective development had been branded an “aerotropolis”, which built “economic benefits around major airports, cities and immediate environs”, said The Waterstreet Group’s spokesman, Oscar Saunderson. “The aerotropolis develops spines or nodes of commercial and residential development as a joint venture between the airport, harbour, airlines, the city, province and the airports company of a region.

“Airports are now driving economic location just as canals and railways did before.”

Saunderson quoted the chief executive of Manchester City, Sir Howard Bernstein, who forecast: “The top 600 cities in the world will change and 100 new ones will emerge.

“International collaboration and trade will become fundamental to city strategy, as will connectivity, and the aerotropolis covers both elements.”

The aerotropolis drove growth since airports became preferred hubs where a primary business community, in time, established itself.

“With things like data parks, diamond-cutting plants, cold storage, comes African head offices and growing demand for more air routes, and stopovers, and finally shopping, and spending in our town. This can create thousands of jobs, and thriving tourism businesses.

“Cape Town’s industrial and warehousing market is in demand, specifically around the airport. With all the import to and export from southern Africa, we believe that there is an increasing opportunity to establish a strong air freight hub in Cape Town.”

The developers and landowners include Power Developments Projects, H&T Prop CC, PJL Prop, Anika Delicio, Maria Salvatore Delicio and Annemarie Delicio.

Some of the proposed development will comprise “a mixed high-density area of industrial development, with housing complexes, wholesale and retail shopping centres” providing thousands of jobs.

“The industrial hive will include small business creation, various public facilities such as clinics, crèches, schools and recreational areas,” the collective development group said in its interdict application.

Saunderson said: “This envisaged business park is intended to be an industrial centre for the entire Philippi and surrounding area, an area to date characterised by its almost total lack of large-scale industrial, and accordingly job-creating, activity.”

The developers argued in their court application: “The business park has enormous benefits for the entire community and it will literally create thousands of jobs in an area where they are sorely lacking. Several thousand jobs will be created during the initial construction phase, which will continue for approximately two to three years. After this (we) understand approximately 65 000 jobs and career opportunities will be created…

“(We) do not believe it needs repetition that one of the most urgent needs in the Western Cape, and the country as a whole, is private job creation. (We) would submit that many of the social ills that currently afflict the region, including lack of access to housing, flow directly from lack of opportunities available to persons to generate income in order to properly provide for themselves and their families.”

The applicants are also members of the Philippi Economic Development Initiative, “an agglomeration of landowners, businessmen, residents, the City of Cape Town, and diverse other interested parties and community organisations, whose sole purpose is the economic upliftment of the entire Philippi area, an area historically marked by serious neglect and underdevelopment.”

‘The victims are invariably the poor’

In an affidavit before the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court one of the applicants, Gary Power, alleges: “I suppose that it is possible that all of a sudden several people spontaneously and simultaneously decided to occupy the property, but would submit that there are strong indicators that the real reason for the prospective land invasion is the insidious practice known as ‘plot farming’.

“What this entails is that a consortium of persons identifies an area of vacant land and then lets it be known, frequently using fake credentials, that they are entitled to allocate portions of that land to landless persons.

“The consortium then extracts payment from persons who believe they are buying a real right to land, usually R500,” the affidavit reads.

Alternatively, the people were told they would be allocated land if they paid a “membership fee”.

These fraudulent property “sellers” usually marked out erfs with pegs and string or tape, adding apparent authenticity to the supposed sale.

After the buyers had been evicted they found the consortium had disbanded and disappeared.

The developers said these victims were “invariably the poorest of the poor who can ill afford spending any amount unnecessarily, are out of pocket and often without a home”.

The developers had seen first-hand how plots had been delineated on the sites of the illegal land invasions, leading them to believe that plot farming was behind recent land invasions.

On September 10 the court will rule on whether the interdict barring land invasions should be made permanent.

The court demands that the police, with the support of the metro police and other relevant enforcement agencies, must take action should the court interdict be broken.

But it was in terms of basic criminal law – which prohibits trespassing – that the police and metro police guarded the site on Friday as the shacks were dismantled and their materials removed from the site.

The City of Cape Town’s Richard Bosman said about 307 structures had been dismantled.

‘We won’t go’

Marikana informal settlement residents have no intention of moving from land they are squatting on.

The privately-owned land in Philippi was invaded about three weeks ago.

The squatters were removed after the developer got a court order but when the Cape Argus visited the informal settlement on Monday, the whole area had been re-occupied.

The residents refused to vacate the land, saying the developer would have to find another site for the mall.

Thando Matiwane, a resident, said: “I do not understand this mall thing. How do you evict people and pull down their homes just for the sake of building a mall? Who is going to buy from that mall?”

Matiwane moved from his backyard home in Lower Crossroads to Marikana two weeks ago.He said he could not afford the R400 rent.

Another resident, Lisa Qomoyi, a mother of two who runs a business selling chicken feet, said the developer should forget about the mall.

“We are not moving from here. So many malls have been built around this area yet none are functioning well. This area has grown to become my business; there is no way I am moving.”

Qomoyi lived in Nyanga before moving to Philippi. She said since coming to Cape Town from the Transkei in 1984, she had not been given a house nor secured a proper job.

“Parts of Gugulethu, KTC and Nyanga all started as informal settlements. Residents fought for their homes and look, now they are still there. Why can we not fight for our own homes?”

The residents said they did not care whether the mall would create employment for them.

Mawethu Mfazwe said: “So many malls have been built in this area. Look at Philippi Plaza or the Gugulethu Square, but none of the employees are from those areas. These companies bring workers of their own. This mall would be useless. How do we shop when we have no shelter?” – Additional reporting by Zodidi Dano

Cape Argus

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