Tafelberg site ruling a victory for affordable housing activists
Cape Town - Housing activists are celebrating after the Western Cape High Court ruled in their favour over the controversial sale of Tafelberg School in Sea Point.
The court set aside the sale of the property. Judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela ruled the regulations used by the provincial government to justify the sale of the site were unconstitutional and invalid.
The court found that the province had erred in its in its decision not to designate the Tafelberg site as falling within a restructuring zone according to the Social Housing Act of 2008.
The court issued a declaratory order stating that both the City and the province were in breach of their constitutional obligations to advance access to affordable housing.
The ruling comes five years after the controversial sale of the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million despite loud objections from housing activists.
Reclaim the City, an activist group, along with activist law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi have waged a sustained campaign to reverse the sale of the land, saying it could instead be used for affordable housing.
The decision to sell the site was made despite the provincial Human Settlements Department promising the land would be used for housing.
Ndifuna Ukwazi executive director Mandisa Shandu said: “The province and the City own considerable parcels of land in central Cape Town but, through their regeneration policies, have been selling off under-utilised land on the open market to the highest bidder rather than using this land for the development of social and affordable housing.
“Even though this case has been four years in the making, it’s really about over 400 years of land dispossession and exclusion in Cape Town. The high court’s decision requires the province and City to urgently come to grips with and implement their legal duties to redress spatial inequality.”
Premier Alan Winde said the judgment has been noted.
“The Western Cape government is deeply committed to addressing the need of residents for affordable housing and redressing the spatial legacy of apartheid.”
Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies executive director Stuart Diamond said that it was aware of the judgment and was working through it so that it could properly understand the implications.
The Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School said in a statement: “We received the judgment only today and are working through it with our legal team to fully understand the implications.”