High court expected to deliver judgment on controversial Tafelberg land sale
Cape Town - It’s D-day for the Western Cape government’s controversial Tafelberg land sale in Sea Point to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School, as the high court is expected to deliver what could be a precedent-setting judgment for affordable housing.
The site was sold for R135 million four years ago, when then-premier Helen Zille’s office said, “Sea Point fell outside a restructuring zone”, so the province could not access national government subsidies to provide affordable housing.
The sale sparked nationwide outrage, with housing activists calling for the site to be used for the development of social housing to redress the apartheid spatial injustice that had resulted in black and coloured people being excluded from well-located parts of central Cape Town.
The National Treasury had also lashed out at the province for its decision, saying it seemed inappropriate - particularly during a period of public sector spending restraint.
Housing activist group Reclaim the City (RTC) and law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi litigated and lobbied against the sale of the land, which is close to social amenities, economic opportunities and schools.
They argued that if the land could be properly developed, it could provide cleaners, carers, petrol attendants and many other poor and working-class families with dignified and decent housing.
Elizabeth Gqoboka, who is a founding member of RTC, said: “(Today) is a big day for us and we are hoping for the best, which will be the beginning of change. We have been waiting for this judgment for four years and we need it to be in favour of the people. It would mean a lot for the working class.”
She said the court’s decision would set a trend, not only development in the Western Cape, but for all disadvantaged people in South Africa.
“It’s about commitment to the people and not just for us. All our hopes are now in the hands of the justice system,” she said.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s spokesperson, Bianca Capazorio, said that it would be premature to comment
The court's decision today will be delivered on the back of housing activists lauding the Amdec Group’s decision to voluntarily include 100 affordable housing units in their multibillion Harbour Arch development on the Foreshore, and after the City made an about-turn and withdrew the notice advertising the renewal of a 10-year lease on the King David Mowbray Golf Club for R11 500 a year. This was after activists slammed the move, calling for the 45-hectare club to be used for affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Ziyanda Ngxakana, 33, had to spend a night outside in the rain with her 5-year-old son after she was evicted at 12am by private security guards, said to be employed by housing NPO Communicare on Sunday.
Ngxakana said the security guards kicked open the door of her home in Brooklyn, Ysterplaat, and dragged her outside.
“I was only wearing a gown and was sleeping when they kicked open the door and started dragging and stripping me. My son was crying, he was traumatised. The incident made me feel like I’m not a human and without rights. I have scratches from being dragged and my whole body aches,” she said.
She said that she had moved into the residence about a week ago after the previous occupant, who was her brother, had asked her to move in following his move to Joburg.
Communicare spokesperson Megan Lennert said: “A house owned by Communicare, in Mist Street, Brooklyn, was being guarded by security guards while being repaired for renting. This weekend people broke into the house. With the assistance of a female security officer, they were removed and a case was opened against them at the Maitland police station. Before the trespassers broke in, the property had been vacant as the previous tenant absconded and stopped paying rent.”