Tafelberg court case: 'Cape Town still resembles an apartheid city'
On Friday, the Western Cape High Court heard final arguments on the Tafelberg property sale, which were branded as “blindingly short-sighted” in the context of entrenched spatial inequality.
Housing activist group Reclaim the City and law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi are challenging the decision by the provincial government to sell the well-located property to a private buyer, the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School, for R135million in the face of the worst housing affordability crisis in the country.
Last Monday marked the start of the case, which ran for a week.
Friday’s arguments began with submissions from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority.
Advocate Emma Webber, acting for the authority, argued that the crux of the case was the state's failure to address spatial injustice, which was a component of the constitutional right to housing (and associated rights).
Advocate Pete Hathorn, for Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi, relied on the expert affidavit of Professor Sue Parnell to underscore how “Cape Town is vastly less densified and more divided than it was 15 years ago…We can see it around us. Cape Town still resembles an apartheid city".
Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi have argued that the exorbitant cost and lack of well-located land is the “single greatest impediment to spatial injustice”.
Hathorn criticised the province’s approach, saying that when it comes to the potential to transform the City, the province’s land-holdings are “gold” and selling this well-located land off amounts to “selling off the family jewels”. In this context, he said that province’s disposal of strategic, well-located land such as the Tafelberg site, was “blindingly shortsighted”.
Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela acknowledged the significance and far-reaching importance of the case before reserving judgment.@MarvinChaarles17