Cape Town - Sea Point residents Thozama Adonisi and Sharone Daniels have hailed the Western Cape High Court’s decision to halt the sale of the Tafelberg Remedial School site by the provincial government as a “victory for the poor working class”.
The controversial sale of the site in Sea Point to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million was stopped on Thursday and the Western Cape government ordered to open a public participation process and await a decision by the provincial cabinet on whether the land should be sold.
Adonisi, with Daniels and other workers, supported by the Reclaim the City movement and the Ndifuna Ukwazi Trust, had approached the Western Cape High Court for an urgent interdict to stop the transfer of the property in April. They said the land could have been used for affordable housing.
On Thursday, the Western Cape High Court directed the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to publish a fresh notice for the proposed sale of the land within 10 days.
The Western Cape government was also ordered to notify the applicants of the provincial cabinet’s decision whether or not to resile (retract) from the contract of the sale between the provincial government and its Department of Public Works and the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
The Transport and Public Works Department was ordered to pay the costs for the applicant’s two counsel.
Mother-of-two Adonisi, who was the first applicant in the matter, said: “To me it’s a huge victory as I have been staying for a long time in Sea Point.
“It’s also a big victory for other Sea Point residents. At least we can see we are getting somewhere. The government will now look at our request. We are hoping they are going to give us the right answers.”
Adonisi said they were opposed to the selling of the land as they had been staying in Sea Point for years.
“We did research if there was anyone willing to help us, and Ndifuna Ukwazi was willing and investigated what was happening,” she said.
Reclaim the City said the provincial government admitted it failed to comply with legal requirements in the sale of state land.
“Poor and working class people now have an opportunity to participate and demand that affordable housing be built on Tafelberg. The province itself has said affordable housing on the site is feasible.”
They demanded the provincial government release all records regarding the decision to sell Tafelberg and provincial government’s commitment to “real participation” where people can make direct oral objections to the proposed sale of the Tafelberg site.
The organisation said Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who is a respondent in the matter, “ducked and dived” when asked about why her government had declared the land surplus when the Human Settlements Department objected to the sale.
“Now that the matter has been settled, is she prepared to respond publicly and defend the decisions of her government?” they asked.
In her newsletter issued yesterday, Zille said the provincial cabinet would consider all submissions received following the fresh notices and determine whether to proceed or withdraw from the sale agreement.
“Last week, our government presented Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre and other applicants with a draft order in the interdict they have launched against the proposed sale of the site.
“The order proposes that we reopen the public consultation process over the sale of the land. This effectively means we will publish fresh notices calling for comment on the proposed sale, as required in terms of the Western Cape Land Administration Act and its regulations,” she said.
Zille said they had a responsibility to consider those comments in carrying out their responsibility of balancing the many competing priorities in society, within stringent budget constraints.