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'Number of errors' made in the River Club judgment, says MEC Anton Bredell

The River Club development project in Observatory was halted as per an interim interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

The River Club development project in Observatory was halted as per an interim interdict granted by the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Apr 13, 2022


Cape Town - A number of errors were made by the court in halting construction of the R4.6 billion River Club development project, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell has said.

His department has joined the Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust (LLPT) and the Western Cape First Nations Collective (WCFNC) in approaching the high court, seeking leave to appeal the judgment and order handed down by Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath last month.

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The court granted an interim interdict to stop construction of the development, pending meaningful engagement and consultation with all affected First Nations Peoples.

Bredell has said the judgment was fraught with misunderstandings about the wide public participation processes undertaken.

“Among the errors identified in the judgment were problems such as the court making a ruling on issues which were not argued by the applicants as part of their case in the first place,” he said.

Court papers submitted called the court’s conduct “irregular” and “prejudiced” where findings were made against the department. They criticised the court’s order as “incapable of enforcement, vague and confusing” and said it was unclear when the consultative process should be conducted and by whom. The papers said the court had erred in regarding only the immediate parties and not the interests of other persons and the wider public.

WCFNC also submitted papers for leave to appeal. The group formed part of the consultation process as representatives of indigenous peoples. They secured a media centre, an indigenous garden, heritage eco-trail and garden amphitheatre as cultural and heritage features as part of the development.

WCFNC leader Zenzile Khoisan said: “The judgment has numerous fault lines that need to be ventilated before a different court. The judgment referenced things that were not part of the application and we believe we are on very sound grounds in our appeal.”

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He said as a collective, they found a sympathetic entity in the developers because the government continually failed to recognise indigenous Khoi and San groups.

“We exercised our indigenous cultural right, recognised by international law, to engage with whoever to secure a future for our people. There were substantive engagements with legitimate First Nations groups to support our own interests in the cultural and heritage centre. We don’t just want a plaque on the river bank,” Khoisan said.

In a joint response, the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC) and the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), along with the Liesbeek Action Campaign (LAC), said the arguments against the interdict were unlikely to succeed.

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“We would have imagined that the consultation order, motivated by appropriate concerns on the part of the court... would have presented an opportunity for the developer and other parties to welcome a meaningful consultation process to secure heritage resources. Instead, we see government ganging-up with a wealthy developer to block this opportunity,” they said.

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Cape Argus

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