File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

Selling Tafelberg property 'short sighted', court hears

By Asanda Sokanyile Time of article published Nov 30, 2019

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Cape Town
- Social housing or office space for the Western Cape Department of Education is what the controversial sale of prime land in Sea Point came down to this week.

Yesterday, Western Cape High Court judges Patrick Gamble and Monde Samela heard that the decision to sell the Tafelberg property had been “blindingly short-sighted” in the context of entrenched spatial inequality.

According to Zacharia Mashele, Ndifuna Ukwazi spokesperson, yesterday’s arguments began with submissions from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), the primary body responsible for the promotion of social housing through the country.

Advocate Emma Webber, acting on behalf of the SHRA, argued that the province’s and the City of Cape Town’s reliance on their delivering of housing in other parts of the city to prove that they had fulfilled their obligation to redress apartheid spatial planning, missed the point.

She said the crux of the case was the state’s failure to address spatial injustice, which was a component of the constitutional right to housing and associated rights.

She noted that even though the constitution did not expressly include wording that affirms the duty to redress apartheid spatial planning, this didn’t mean it wasn’t part of the right.

The case was brought forward by Ndifuna Ukwazi on behalf of four individuals - Thozama Adonisi, Phumza Ntutela, Sharone Daniels and Selina La Hane - as well as on behalf of Reclaim the City (RTC) and the trustees of the Ndifuna Ukwazi Trust.

The Tafelberg Property in Sea Point is owned by the Western Cape government and was initially identified as a site that could be used to facilitate transformation in Cape Town’s inner city.

According to Marcellino Martin, spokesperson for MEC of Human Settlements Tertuis Simmers, there is a housing backlog of 575 000 for the province.

Advocate Peter Hathorn criticised the province’s approach, saying that when it came to the potential to transform the City, the province’s land-holdings were “gold” and selling this well-located land off amounts to “selling off the family jewels”.

In this context, he said that province’s disposal of strategic, well-located land such as the Tafelberg site, was “blindingly short-sighted”.

Earlier in the week however, the discussion shifted to whether the Tafelberg site should have been included in Cape Town’s “restructuring zone” which would have meant a national government subsidy could be applied for to build housing.

Advocate Eduard Fagan argued that Sea Point was not included in the zone and there was no obligation to ask the national minister to clarify the language describing the zone.

Weekend Argus

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