Picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus
Cape Town - As Cape Town fights Reclaim the City in the Western Cape High Court this morning over the controversial sale of the Tafelberg property in Sea Point, the City's human settlements directorate is embroiled in 259 legal matters related to housing.

This emerged in a report submitted to the City's human settlements portfolio committee.

According to the report, the directorate is receiving legal assistance in 133 cases and legal opinions in 12. It also has 57 high court litigations and 57 magistrate’s court litigations.

The report also stated that the City’s legal services advised the directorate that it could not provide details of active matters because they were confidential.

Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said: “These cases include contraventions of by-laws and the laws of the country.”

“The City is acting in accordance with policy, by-laws and legislation.

"Legal matters are mostly actions of last resort following engagements and interventions in accordance with due process.”

But he was tight-lipped on how many cases were completed and how much money had been spent, saying that information could not be ascertained in time for the deadline.

According to data collected by information and research centre Open Up, 69 eviction cases were heard in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court between April and July.

The data also showed that 45 of the 69 respondents attended court and 27 had legal representation.

Reclaim the City, along with law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi, will this morning challenge the decision by the provincial government to sell the Tafelberg property to a private buyer.

They argue that the City and province failed to effect their duties in terms of the Constitution, the Housing Act, the Social Housing Act and the Land Use Management Act by not properly addressing "spatial apartheid" in Cape Town.

Ndifuna Ukwazi director Mandisa Shadu said: “The City and the province have consistently failed to regulate land and private property markets, resulting in an exclusionary housing market that is inaccessible to most poor and working class families.

"Rents and property prices in central Cape Town have risen dramatically.

"In this context, most poor and working-class families cannot afford to live in central Cape Town and are either forced out to peripheral areas, or forced to spend a hefty portion of their income on transport to and from work, schools and other opportunities.”

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Cape Argus