Costs add up on Tafelberg

2016-07-26 06:00

The costs of delays in the sale and development of the Tafelberg school site are adding up.

The provincial public works department is currently footing the bill for four security guards to patrol on site, night and day, as well as the use of a guard dog on all shifts.

These security measures have been in place since September 2014, and are costing the department over R50 000 per month.

Concerns of vagrancy on the site have been raised several times the last five years, with the department committing to secure the property in 2014 (“Maintenance for former school”, People’s Post, 25 November 2014).

Discussed during a site visit carried out by public works minister Donald Grant, ward councillor Jacques Weber and the Sea Point Community Police Forum, the maintenance included repairs to the electric fencing surrounding the property, cleansing and clearing. At the time, Weber estimated these costs at around R300 000.

Until a decision is made regarding the future of the property, it would be pure speculation to estimate for how long the property will stand vacant, says public works department spokesperson Byron la Hoe.

The sale of the former Tafelberg School property to the Phyllis Jowell School was halted following an order of the Western Cape High Court, after community organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi took the provincial government to task, claiming they had not followed the correct legal requirements for the sale of the land.

Ndifuna Ukwazi is looking for the property to be used for affordable housing instead of a school (“School sale paused for public comment”, People’s Post, 10 May).

A 21-day public comment and objection period closed on Thursday 9 June. Over 5000 people commented during the second round of public participation, according to a statment my the premier, Helen Zille. Provincial cabinet is still to decide if the sale should continue.

“Comments are being processed and will be presented to Cabinet at the earliest opportunity. The volume of material is extensive,” says La Hoe.

The property was to be sold by the provincial public works department for R135m.

In March 2014, the property – along with three other provincially owned sites – was advertised for development by private sector investors in partnership with the provincial government.

The site, formerly known as the Tafelberg Remedial High School, consists of two separate erven of 1.7 hectares. The pupils of Tafelberg School moved to their new school building in 2010, which merged the primary and high schools. The building has been standing empty since then.

Allegations have been made that top officials within the provincial governement have pushed for the sale of the property, as opposed to the creation of affordable housing.

These allegations have been refuted by the premier’s office.

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