Former premier Helen Zille dodges questions on court’s Tafelberg land ruling
Cape Town – Former Western Cape premier Helen Zille has dodged questions regarding the sale of the Tafelberg site in Sea Point, which happened on her watch.
The Western Cape High Court on Monday rubbished Zille’s claims, made four years ago, that the sale to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School was because “Sea Point fell outside a restructuring zone”.
The court found Zille’s administration to be in contravention of the Constitution as it failed in its duties under the Housing and Social Housing acts.
When asked on Tuesday about the decision to sell the the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School instead of using it for affordable housing, Zille referred the Cape Times to the DA’s provincial lawyer, Fiona Stewart, who said: “The advice on the restructuring zone was given to cabinet by senior counsel in the case, as argued in court.”
Former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who in 2018 resigned from the DA, on Tuesday lauded the Western Cape High Court for acknowledging support for affordable, well-located housing within the city.
In early 2017, De Lille pledged support for the development of affordable housing at the Tafelberg site.
“I also agree with the judgment from the Western Cape High Court that the national Department of Public Works has a key role to play in any future affordable housing development in the City in securing the release of under-utilised state-owned land.
“This is true for national, but also for local and provincial government spheres. The sphere of government which happens to now be custodian of the many public properties inherited from our apartheid past is simply an accident of history.”
Yonela Diko, spokesperson for Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, said the judgment obliged the City and province to consult the national government.
“If the province thought it was an island which could take independent decisions that are outside the national constitutional imperatives of providing adequate housing for our people, it was wrong, and the national government will exercise great vigilance to ensure the province and City comply,” said Diko.
Meanwhile, the City has filed an application for leave to appeal a separate Western Cape High Court interdict barring it from removing land occupiers.
The court last month prohibited the City from conducting evictions and demolitions of occupied and unoccupied structures without judicial oversight.
Mayor Dan Plato said on Tuesday: “I have instructed our legal team to pursue an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal based on the imminent and irreparable harm that would arise should the City be prevented from upholding the rule of law and protecting public land intended for services, housing, community facilities, schools and transport services.”