The battle to use the Tafelberg site for affordable housing instead of selling it to private buyers is not yet over.
This was the message from Reclaim the City supporters last week. On Friday May 5, Reclaim the City welcomed the court application to review the decision by Provincial Government to sell the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
Ndifuna Ukwazi, the legal centre supporting the Reclaim the City campaign, has launched a High Court application over the Provincial Cabinet’s decision to sell the Tafelberg site.
The land, which had been owned by the Department of Public Works, was sold to the private school in 2015 for
R135 million but Reclaim the City, supported by Ndifuna Ukwazi, blocked the sale in May last year after a court settlement.
In November last year, the Western Cape Government released a feasibility study on affordable housing at the site before deciding to go ahead with the sale in March this year.
Ndifuna Ukwazi lawyers will argue that both the Province and the City have failed in their Constitutional obligations to redress spatial apartheid in central Cape Town and to give effect to the right of poor and working class people to access land and housing in well-located areas.
They say that within this context, the Province’s declaration of the Tafelberg site as “surplus”, and the subsequent decisions to sell the site, were unlawful.
The decision to sell the Tafelberg site was questioned by several role-players, including the Treasury, last month (“Treasury voices concerns over Tafelberg”, Atlantic Sun, April 20).
Reclaim the City’s Sea Point chapter chairperson, Sheila Madikana, said a court date was yet to be confirmed.
“We are going to court and we want to make the people aware of what is happening.”
She also said that activists would continue to occupy the Helen Bowden Nurses Home site in Granger Bay and Woodstock Hospital site until Province made firm commitments about using the sites for affordable housing (“Reclaim occupy buildings”, Atlantic Sun, March 30).
“We are there for a month and two weeks. We told the Premier this morning that we don’t intend to move. It’s not right that buildings must stand empty where people are struggling for places to stay. They want the birds to stay in there but not the people.”
Reclaim the City spokesperson Elizabeth Gqoboka added: “They might have thought they won the battle but we’re going to win the war. It is not over yet. The need for housing in the inner-city is more important than selling vacant land to private buyers. They must look at the need of the people for housing instead of selling government land.”