Judge dismissed property developer's application for an interdict against Reclaim the City for protesting on a site belonging to Growthpoint Properties. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Housing activists, Reclaim the City, claimed victory after the Western Cape High Court dismissed an interdict against them by Growthpoint for protesting on a site belonging to the property developer.

Judge Judith Cloete dismissed Growthpoint Properties application for a final interdict against Reclaim the City, with the judge saying that the company had omitted to place all relevant facts before Judge Kate Savage, who had granted the interim interdict.  

She said that if Judge Savage had all the relevant facts she might have come to a different conclusion.

Judge Cloete added that Growthpoint’s reasons given for the non-disclosure were “flimsy and unpersuasive”. 

She also ruled that Growthpoint pay the costs of the first and second interested parties.

Reclaim the City occupied the property by building shacks, with members of #UniteBehind and of the Social Justice Coalition on December 4 in protest of the sale by the City of Cape Town of the site for about R140 million less than it was worth.

Growthpoint applied for an urgent interdict to prevent the occupation, which was granted the same day. The interim order barred the protesters from entering the premises.

Reclaim the City spokesperson Zacharia Mashele said: “This judgment is a win for working-class people’s right to protest. Poor and working-class people derive power from protests in order to voice their issues and frustrations and a powerful property company like Growthpoint tried to silence us by applying for an interdict without informing us. 

“This limited our right to present the facts to the high court as to why we were protesting on the day.” 

Mashele said the court found that Growthpoint had acted in bad faith when it applied for the interim and also misled the court by saying that it did not know who the protesters were and claimed they intended to occupy the piece of land permanently. 

Judge Judith Cloete dismissed property developer's application for an interdict against Reclaim the City for protesting on a site belonging to Growthpoint Properties. Video: Supplied

Social housing advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi initially sounded the alarm after obtaining documents which raised serious questions about top City council officials allegedly implicated in a so-called botched auction of the prime piece of land. 

In September last year, former mayor Patricia de Lille requested a probe into the auction deal. According to mayor Dan Plato, it was still ongoing.

“Friday’s judgment not only upheld an important legal principle but essentially indicated any attempt to abuse the court process and undermine the constitutional right to access to justice will not be tolerated,” Mashele said.

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus