RECLAIM The City activists have erected shacks on a piece of land in the city. Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Members of social-housing activist group Reclaim the City have erected shacks on a prime piece of CBD land the City had sold Growthpoint well below its market value.

“This used to be public land, that is now kept by the wealthiest company, and this land symbolises the problems that we are facing in Cape Town,” said Reclaim the City’s Nkosikhona Swaartbooi. Several shacks have been erected on the land, and portable toilets have even been brought in.

Swaartbooi said they plan to occupy the land for the next few days.

The occupation follows reports that the city council lost out on R140million of public money due to an alleged botched auction of the prime land.

Social housing advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi initially sounded the alarm after they obtained 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, former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille requested an investigation into the so-called botched auction deal.

Last month, members of the Social Justice Coalition marched to the civic centre to demand basic services in a number of informal settlements.

“The struggle for land, the struggle for basic services is a struggle for many people who are living far away from the city ,” said Axolile Notywala, general secretary at Social Justice Coalition.

Regional asset manager of commercial properties at Growthpoint, Tim Irvine said: “We became aware of people occupying the land in the early hours of the morning.

“We understand that its members of Reclaim the City and members of Ndifuna Ukwazi.

“We understand their concerns but what we don’t understand is them occupying the land we currently use as a parking lot while we go through the development plans.”

Mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management James Vos said: “A forensic investigation is under way and it is being treated as a priority matter. The city cannot commit to time lines as it could hamper the investigation.

Growthpoint’s application for development rights is being processed and due process will be followed.”

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Cape Argus