18 December 2018

South Africa: Sale of Land for Controversial Development in the Bo-Kaap to Be Taken On Review

Residents of the Bo-Kaap want the Western Cape High Court to review the City of Cape Town's sale of land, earmarked for a controversial development in the historic neighbourhood.

On Tuesday, Judge Elizabeth Baartman heard an interdict application which Blok developers had lodged to stop the community from protesting against the development in Lion Street.

But the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association indicated that they wanted to ask the court to set aside the sale of the property instead. They have been added as a respondent to the application.

The legal teams agreed to have the application for the setting aside of the sale of the land heard separately because other parties, such as the City of Cape Town, would also have to be involved.

Blok's interdict application was postponed to February 25

The developers also agreed to inform the community if they intend to move a large crane. They undertook to give the community 72 hours' notice, which would allow the community to approach the court.

On Sunday, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced that the process to have the Bo-Kaap declared a national heritage site would start early next year. He also wants it to be declared a world heritage site.

Following earlier protests in May, Blok obtained an interim interdict against the Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood Watch and the community - as well as all other persons causing obstructions or unlawfully conducting themselves. They now want this interdict to be made final.

The interdict prohibited residents from obstructing the route or interfering with the transportation of the mobile crane to and from the construction site at 40 Lion Street.

They were also prohibited from entering the construction site and from vandalising, sabotaging or committing arson to Blok's property - including construction vehicles.

Last month, residents - many of them elderly women - tried to prevent a mobile crane from entering the neighbourhood. As the crane rolled up Bloem Street, flanked by private security guards armed with Airsoft guns, some residents lay on the ground and blocked the crane's path.

After a standoff, which led to the closure of busy Buitengracht Street, stun grenades were fired to disperse the small crowd and five people were arrested for contravening the National Road Traffic Act and a court interdict. The charges were later dropped.

Heritage status for the colourful, historic neighbourhood has been central in its inhabitants' struggle against gentrification.

In 2013, Sub-Council 16 called for the Bo-Kaap to be declared a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ). In 2015, proposals from the Bo-Kaap Civic Association together with the City's environmental resource management department followed, saying an HPOZ would "assist with the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Bo-Kaap".

But, according to a forensic report by law firm Bowmans, which was adopted by the City council at a dramatic council meeting in October, former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille allegedly blocked it.

In early December, De Lille's successor Dan Plato announced that the City would proceed with the process to have the Bo-Kaap declared an HPOZ.

Source: News24

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