Sea Point site can be a symbol of healing - religious leaders

2016-06-29 13:10
The Tafelberg property site in Sea Point which forms part of a court battle between workers and the Western Cape government (taken from the City of Cape Town's map viewer)

The Tafelberg property site in Sea Point which forms part of a court battle between workers and the Western Cape government (taken from the City of Cape Town's map viewer)

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Cape Town – Religious leaders have added their voice to the call to stop the sale of the Tafelberg school site in Sea Point.

They believed the site held the potential for being a symbol of healing, unity and desegregation in Cape Town.

In separate letters sent at the start of the month, as part of the public consultation process, they pleaded with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to rather consider the site for centrally located affordable housing.

The sale of the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School was put on hold after workers and the Reclaim the City campaign went to court to question the use of the land.

The provincial government reopened the public consultation process in May as part of a settlement made an order of court.

Undoing apartheid spatial planning

At the close of consultation on June 9, Zille's spokesperson Michael Mpofu said the provincial government would carefully consider the submissions within 30 working days, as required by the court order.

"Despite repeated requests for comment we have not pre-empted the outcome of this process," Mpofu said at the time.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said they strongly supported efforts to provide mixed-income housing.

He said this was a step in the direction of undoing the city’s apartheid spatial planning.

“Our parishes across the city were devastated by the introduction of the Group Areas Act, and we are still experiencing the damage that was done to social cohesion by people being torn out of their neighbourhoods and dumped on the Flats in forced removals,” said Makgoba.

Bishop Augustine Joemath, of the Moravian Church, said it was heartbreaking enough to have been part of the District 6 community that was torn apart.

While past memories could never be wiped, he believed brave steps could be taken to build a new future.

Class segregation

Imam of the Claremont Main Road Mosque, Dr Rashied Omar, said very little had been done to correct past injustices, and expressed the concern that selling the land would entrench "the racial segregation of Apartheid but also financial segregation and thus class segregation".

Rev Alan Storey, of the Cape Town Central Methodist Church, said transforming the site into affordable housing was a chance for all to reclaim humanity.

He said it presented an opportunity “for our hearts of stone to take on flesh again as we fix a tiny fragment of our broken past”.

Concerned Quakers in the Western Cape supported the call for the state-owned land to be used for affordable family housing.

They said the site could be used to narrow the “enormous gulf” in living conditions between families living near the city and those far out on the Cape Flats.

The Western Cape circuit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa praised Zille’s efforts to improve the lives of people in the province.

Its dean Gerhard De Vries-Bock appealed to the government to give working class citizens the chance to live and work closer to the city’s economic hub.

Read more on:    cape town  |  poverty  |  land  |  local government

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