Site of the proposed development at The River Club in Observatory. Photo: Supplied
Site of the proposed development at The River Club in Observatory. Photo: Supplied

Housing activists appeal against River Club development

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Oct 26, 2020

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Cape Town - Housing activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) in its appeal against the Municipal Planning Tribunal’s (MPT) approval of the River Club development says the site has “undisputable historical-political significance as a result of its complex history”.

NU lodged its appeal against the approval by the City’s MPT of the fiercely contested development in Observatory.

The rezoning application was unanimously approved in September.

“It is one of the first instances of colonial conquest and dispossession, as well as one of the first sites of Khoi and San resistance to colonial forces.

“The site also highlights how the history of colonial dispossession remains centrally important to the land question in South Africa today,” NU said in a statement.

“As farming land, the River Club site was used by European conquerors to exclude, displace and thereby dis-empower indigenous Khoi and San people from access to the land. These communities were displaced from access to the best grazing land in the banks of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers.

"They fought and struggled to access this site, and despite various successful instances of resistance, were eventually defeated.”

The area is also known for early Khoi and San battles against Francisco D’Almeida, the Portuguese Viceroy of India in 1510 and with the Dutch from 1657 as Jan van Riebeek started to establish grazing and farming fields for the "freeburghers" in the Liesbeek Valley, NU said.

“The heritage of all South Africans can be traced back to the injustices perpetrated from these struggles.”

The group alleges that knowing that the River Club redevelopment would be contentious, a deal was negotiated for cultural place-making representations with a single group of Khoi and San people, marginalising the wide range of other Khoi and San representatives who fiercely opposed this approach.

“Ndifuna Ukwazi therefore calls on the mayor as the Appeal Authority in development approvals to re-open the public participation process so that everyone can comment on the revised proposals for the River Club,” NU said.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the the City’s Planning Appeals Advisory Panel (PAAP) will consider appeals pertaining to the MPT decision to approve the rezoning of the River Club development.

“Once this process has been concluded, the PAAP will make a recommendation to the mayor, who is the final appeals authority in terms of the City of Cape Town’s municipal planning by-laws,” he said.

Tauriq Jenkins of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Indigenous Council said they would submit their objection today.

Cape Times

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