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River Club developers LLPT can’t blame activists, for its failures, says Saftu

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said they were concerned that activists were being blamed for the “consequences of a private developer’s decision”. Picture: ANA Archives

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said they were concerned that activists were being blamed for the “consequences of a private developer’s decision”. Picture: ANA Archives

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Cape Town - The SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has weighed in on the controversial River Club development, saying developers, the Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust (LLPT), must not “lay the blame of its failures” at the feet of the Khoi, San, environmental and civic activists who opposed the project.

This after they say some 750 construction workers had their short-term contracts suspended when the Western Cape High Court halted the development.

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Western Cape High Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath interdicted construction on the site pending review proceedings, saying the fact that the development had economic benefits could never override the fundamental rights of the First Nations People – which was under threat if the development was allowed to proceed.

Earlier this month, the LLPT filed an urgent application for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal, against Goliath’s decision.

On Wednesday Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said they were concerned that activists were being blamed for the “consequences of a private developer’s decision”.

“Formal objections to commercial development have been lodged for years by Khoi and San groups, who have remained steadfast against any form of commercial alteration to the site, due to its pre-eminent heritage properties, its historical, cultural and spiritual value, and its environmental sensitivity.

“According to the recent judgement, the developer, LLPT, has failed to adequately consult Khoi and San groups before embarking on this project.

“Predictably, workers are being forced to pay the harshest price for the greed and recklessness of private capital.

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“Rather than accept responsibility for its failure to adequately consult indigenous groups before embarking on the construction phase of this risky enterprise, the developer is choosing to lay the blame of its failures at the feet of the activists and indigenous groups who opposed the project,” Vavi said.

The union insisted that the developer engage with the affected workers, “in attempts to remunerate them in a fair and equitable manner, given that they have been forced to carry the weight of the developer’s own negligence”.

The LLPT maintained it was the activists who were to blame.

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“The reason for workers currently sitting without work, due to construction having been halted on the site, is because of the vexatious legal action brought by two applicants.

“Saftu’s statement is based on vague and open-ended claims made by the applicants.

“They (have not) demonstrated at all how the various conditions of approval of the development will not safeguard any intangible heritage associated with the broader area.

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“Now that the applicants have filed their supplementary affidavits, the LLPT looks forward to the final review matter being assessed by the High Court who is tasked with assessing whether the executive decision makers acted rationally and whether the process was public and fair when approving the development.”

The Liesbeek Action Campaign, the applicants in the matter said: “It is clear the LLPT have exaggerated the number of jobs they promised to create, jobs which could anyway have been created at another site had Amazon chosen more wisely any of the other five options available to them.

“The confluence of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers is not a commodity for obscene profiteering nor can it remain a sanctuary of genocide denial.

“This is a place where the Khoi and San were dispossessed of their custodianship of land, where the First Frontier Wars broke out, where ethnocide and forced removals began. The loss of and destruction of our collective memory of who we are as Southern Africans is what is at stake here.”

Cape Times

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