Review of Tafelberg school sale on the cards

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The case involving a bid to halt the transfer of the Tafelberg School site in Sea Point is set to continue on Thursday April 28 after it came before the Western Cape High Court last week.

On Monday April 11 Reclaim the City filed papers asking the High Court for an emergency interdict to stop the Department of Public Works from selling the land.

Reclaim the City argues that the sale of the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million was unlawful. The organisation also released documents, which, it said, exposed irregularities in the sale (“Tafelberg saga heads to court”, Atlantic Sun, April 14).

A Reclaim the City statement said that less than 24 hours after being served, the Department of Public Works and Transport’s lawyers contacted Ndifuna Ukwazi (an NGO representing the Reclaim the City campaign) having decided that they would not challenge the emergency interdict and would voluntarily halt the sale, opening the way for a full review of the decision.

Included in Reclaim the City’s application to halt the sale interdict was evidence that: “The Department of Transport and Public Works knows that isiXhosa is one of the major languages in the Western Cape and yet only published the notice of disposal in English and Afrikaans.

“To sell the land it must be declared surplus and in order to do this it should not be needed for service delivery objectives,” Reclaim the City said. “The department ignored an appeal by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (DHS) to stop the sale and reserve the site for social housing.

Reclaim the City also said “a provincially supported feasibility study concluded that social housing was a viable option for the site but had been ignored and that in 2015, the disposal of the site had switched from a long-term lease to an outright sale, despite assurances from Public Works and Transport MEC Donald Grant that this would never happen. “The province ignored its own obligations to address the need for affordable well-located housing in its own spatial development policy and legislation,” Reclaim the City added. At a protest held outside the court on Thursday April 14, Reclaim the City spokesperson, Kopano Maroga, said mixed income communities were possible. “We are here because we know what the truth is and we know why we’re here.”

One of the applicants in the case, Sharone Daniels, who stays in Ocean View, said: “I am one of the people who have submitted affidavits. Part of the reason for me being part of this campaign is the injustice.”

Zackie Achmat, who is the co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi, blamed all three spheres of government for the current housing crises in the country. “In Sea Point people will remember the Tramway residents who were forced out in the 1960s. They were working and living in the city. They did not get their land back. In the meantime, the poorest people have to come into the city and clean the dirt and keep the streets clean.

“This land was promised for social housing. The MEC of Human Settlements asked for the land called Tafelberg to be used for housing. We will not allow them to sell Tafelberg. We will be back next week to get an answer.”

At the protest, supporters of Reclaim the City handed over a memorandum to a representative of the Department of Public Works and Transport. The department declined to comment, citing the sub judice rule.