Cape Town - The provincial government plans to appeal against the landmark Tafelberg land sale judgment handed down two weeks ago by the Western Cape High Court that was widely praised by activists for land redress and spatial equality.
It set aside sale of the site to a day school, and found the province and City had not taken adequate steps to address apartheid spatial planning in Cape Town as per its constitutional duty.
In a statement, Premier Alan Winde and Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said the judgment amounts to “judicial overreach”.
“The court has made a range of orders that will impact our ability to competently manage this province and govern it as an independent sphere of government as envisaged by the Constitution,” the statement read. “We will be applying for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
The site was sold to Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School in 2017, although the school never took occupancy. Now, the school has indicated it will no longer be going through with its purchase and the land will be returned to government.
“The Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School have indicated they do not intend to pursue their rights under this contract of sale - a decision we believe will result in the mutual termination of the sale agreement and the return of the property to the Western Cape Government’s property portfolio.”
Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), which with Reclaim the City challenged the sale, has criticised the decision to appeal.
“The province’s decision to appeal this progressive ruling is a slap in the face of poor and working class communities,” said spokesperson Zacharia Mashele. “The province and Provincial Premier Alan Winde would rather defend spatial apartheid that commit to meaningful change.”
Winde said his administration is committed to achieving spatial redress and will engage with Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi to work towards building a fairer, more inclusive Western Cape.
However, NU said: “The province’s decision to appeal the ruling is irreconcilable with Premier Winde’s public commitments to ‘vanquish’ the ‘stubborn spatial tenants or apartheid’ and ‘unlock’ the blockages that prevented the Tafelberg site from being used for the development of social housing.
“Instead of delivering on his promises, Premier Winde has shown himself to be a hypocrite and a liar by choosing to defend the unlawful and unreasonable decision to sell the Tafelberg site.
“And, in doing so, spending exorbitant amounts of public money fighting civil society in the courts rather than acquiescing to their constitutional and legislative obligations – money that could have been better spent addressing the province’s acute land and housing crisis.”