Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the Western Cape High Court on April 17 in solidarity with Tauriq Jenkins, the high commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC). Jenkins is fighting for the reinstatement of his status as a Khoi Khoin traditional leader.
Several South African indigenous leaders called for unity in standing up against the destructive “Amazon development”, also known as the “River Club development,” which is set to take shape within Cape Town’s Observatory district.
Also in attendance were dozens of residents from Observatory’s Singabalapha and the Willow Arts Collective, who are under threat of eviction from the City of Cape Town.
In a press release, the GKKITC said the court hearing involved a case whereby Jenkins’ traditional standing was challenged by a group of three defectors, two of whom were ousted from the GKKITC for attempting to conduct a hostile takeover in 2018 with another resigning from the council in 2021.
The three men had brought a rescission application against Jenkins, which was heard unopposed last year when the court rejected Jenkins’ affidavit, resulting in Jenkins’ recognition as traditional Khoi Khoin leader being revoked.
However, Jenkins' standing was fully restored on November 29 last year when his legal team lodged an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The application, which was to have been heard on Monday, has been postponed to June 6.
The postponement came after opposing lawyers submitted their arguments at the last minute.
Led by advocate Roseline Nyman, the GKKITC team appealed to the court for an explanation from the respondents' legal team for this unacceptable conduct, labelling it an “ambush”.
Due to the late submission, Jenkins’ legal team was not in a position to respond on the day.
The GKKITC believes that “this form of “cowboy litigation” was meant to delay the case so as to postpone the resolution of the legal situation.”
To prevent the case from being postponed, Nyman asked the court to allow both parties to proceed with arguments in open court and for the reply to Heads of Argument to be done thereafter in writing.
The late filing of the papers placed the court in a difficult position. As a result, the court ruled that the matter be postponed.
The GKKITC said: “We are firmly convinced that the courts did in fact err in their initial decision and Jenkins’ right to a fair hearing was infringed upon.”
According to the GKKITC, the development of the Amazon facility will destroy land that constitutes as a Khoi heritage precinct.
The GKKITC said: “Besides having strong spiritual and pre colonial historical significance, it’s notable as the site where, in 1510, Portuguese invaders were first defeated by the Khoi, and where, in 1652, Jan van Riebeek himself weaponised Roman Dutch law for the first time, using it to legitimise the theft of land from the Khoi who were its traditional custodians.”