City of Cape Town, Western Cape government in court to dispute Tafelberg ruling
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Cape Town - Housing activists are expected back in the Western Cape High Court today to argue against the provincial government and the City's applications for leave to appeal against the landmark Tafelberg judgment.
The Western Cape Government announced, in September, it plans to appeal on the basis that the judgment amounts to “judicial overreach”.
Ndifuna Ukwazi director Mandisa Shandu said: “The judgment is significant, not only for the Tafelberg site, but also has implications for public land across the city in terms of setting out the constitutional framework that should inform how public land is used and disposed of, and broadening the opportunity for the public to have a real say in these critical decisions about land that ultimately shape our city.”
Shandu said Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi would be challenging both the province and the City's applications to challenge the judgment in court. “Central Cape Town is the most significant concentration of business and employment in the city and the region, with more than 200 000 people commuting into the city every workday.
Given the importance of the city centre, spatial apartheid cannot be addressed while poor and working-class families continue to be excluded from central Cape Town,” she said.
The City said the court erred in conflating the obligations of the province and the City, and in doing so, found the City had failed to comply with its obligations under the Housing Act and Social Housing Act.
“In doing so, it failed to specify which provisions specifically had not been complied with on an area-specific basis, especially given that by the time it reached the City's oral argument, the applicants' case was that it was no longer social housing that was being sought, but affordable housing will also do.
“In finding such, the court ignored the City's social housing erected within walking distance to public transport and employment areas and which contributes to racial integration within certain suburbs, as well as its plans for social housing developments in this next 10 to 15 years,” its court papers state.
The City said the lack of social housing was not its fault but rather a result of the non- availability of suitable land at a fair price.
The Western Cape High Court found the City and the provincial government had failed in their constitutional mandate to address apartheid spatial planning by selling the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million. The property has been returned to the provincial government.
The province said the findings of the court in this regard impact on the Western Cape government's core functions going forward, including the right of province's executive to determine how and where its budget is allocated province-wide, its right to determine how to dispose of assets and its right to operate within a participative democracy.