A large group of protesters from Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi demonstrated outside the SABC’s property in Sea Point. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
A large group of protesters from Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi demonstrated outside the SABC’s property in Sea Point. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Court interdict stops SABC from auctioning off Sea Point building

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published May 20, 2021

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Cape Town – The cash-strapped SABC was stopped in its tracks from auctioning its Rocklands property in Sea Point to the highest bidder because this move was in conflict with the government’s mandate to redress spatial segregation.

This is according to the Human Settlements Department and the Housing Development Agency (HDA), after securing a court interdict against the auction, which was to take place yesterday.

The public broadcaster issued notices of termination of lease agreements for its non-core properties in December, and that it would sell these at a public auction, however, a date was not given until last month.

But just hours before the auction, the department and the HDA secured an interdict, saying this made it difficult for the people to access well-located and affordable housing opportunities.

“One of our biggest mandates is to achieve effective transformation of the space economy, and to curb the advances of racial and class divides.

’’The sale of the properties – without it being made expressly available for subsidised and/or social rental housing – would be against all we are striving for, and we had to intervene urgently on this matter,” said Human Settlements director-general Mbulelo Tshangana.

He said the department wanted more affordable housing programmes within the Inner cities, so as to bring people closer to work opportunities, and other social and economic amenities.

“The department acknowledges the various community and non-governmental groups who have continuously campaigned and supported the work of the department, provinces and municipalities for access to affordable, decent and rental accommodation in the city,” he said.

Advertised by Aucor, the property is 2 162m² and features five erven, a block of flats with 14 units over three erven, and space for parking measuring 900m². The terms and conditions include a R50 000 refundable deposit.

Housing lobby groups have hailed the department for stepping in to interdict the SABC’s planned auction, saying that the working-class people have been campaigning for the site to be used for affordable housing since 1996, yet it was being sold off to the highest bidder, amid a housing crisis.

A large group of protesters from Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi demonstrated outside the property in Sea Point.

The organisations said they supported the HDA and the department's calls for spatial and land reform, as articulated in their founding affidavit.

“The Tafelberg case reminds us that access to well-located land is one of the primary drivers of continued spatial inequality.

’’Land is scarce and finite and, in the context of a land and housing crisis, the SABC, as an SOE, cannot be exempted from the need to use public land for spatial redress, through developing affordable housing,” read the HDA affidavit.

SABC’s group executive for corporate affairs and marketing Gugu Ntuli said the auction was temporarily suspended.

She said the application was brought on the basis of an alleged breach of the “State Owned Enterprises’ Non-Core Property Disposal Policy, and Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Guidelines of 2008”.

“The lateness of the application prevented the SABC from responding and the Judge did not believe the corporation would be unnecessarily inconvenienced by a short interlude, thus allowing it an opportunity to respond,” said Ntuli.

Ntuli said it was imperative to note that the interdict was an interim order, allowing the SABC an opportunity to state its case by June 2.

“The SABC will demonstrate that the relevant policy finds no application to the SABC and would have the interim order set aside. The corporation wishes to emphasise that it has executed the process in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

“Though we are cognisant of human settlement development challenges or spatial inequality issues, the corporation’s mandate is limited in terms of its founding legislation,” said Ntuli.

Acting Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said they noted the interdict obtained against the sale of the SABC building.

Cape Times

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