Cape Town – Activists calling for affordable housing in the city took their frustration to Rondebosch Golf Club, saying the site was perfect for an affordable housing development amid a “housing crisis”.
They said the City was leasing the land for very little to allow for exorbitant private profit.
About 350 people from Reclaim the City entered the golf course with banners in hand, occupying the space, waiting for deputy mayor Ian Neilson to meet them. He did not arrive.
“We will not rise to threats,” he said. ‘‘We do not accept these actions as acceptable to the rules of engagement. In any case, the entire campaign is misplaced,” Neilson said
Reclaim the City spokesperson Nkosikhona Swaartbooi said Neilson continually ignored them and they would escalate their action.
“We had no problems with the management, they were very accommodating, as long as we remained peaceful which we promised and did.
“Even police were there but we had no problems,” Swaartbooi said.
He said Rondebosch Golf Course was as big as 45 soccer fields and could house thousands of families.
“Instead, it has been leased to a private club for R1 000 a year, where membership costs R15 750 a year. We want the city (council) to stop all leases on public land and declare them sites for affordable housing.
‘‘We want a commitment that all sites publicly owned will be earmarked for affordable housing. The city (council) only makes this land accessible to the rich and wealthy, ignoring the vast majority.
“This just shows that the city (council) does have land but it doesn’t want to use its well-located land for housing. It is immoral and unethical.
“As we commemorate Human Rights Day, we remember how our parents and grandparents struggle against discrimination and an oppressive racist regime.
“They knew that there could be no justice and equality without the return of the land,” Swaartbooi said.
Social Justice Coalition general secretary Axolile Notywala said: “This is a big piece of public land that can accommodate many of the landless and homeless we work with.
‘‘This is not the only piece of land we know of, this is just to tell people that there is well-located public land that can be used for housing.
‘‘The amount of money the land is being leased for is absurd, it is less than the average domestic worker pays for rent, which is R3 000.”
Neilson said the golf course had a 25-year lease, given by a previous council. “We are honouring the lease,” he said.
Neilson said the housing issue was not about land but about funds for development.
Reclaim the City said if the city council refused to meet its obligations, provincial or national government should expropriate the land for affordable housing.