Ultimatum for KCT

2020-03-26 06:00
Khayelitsha MallPHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Khayelitsha MallPHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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Battle lines have been drawn between members of the Khayelitsha Development Forum Task Team (KDFTT) and their Khayelitsha Community Trust (KCT) counterparts over the upgrade of the Khayelitsha Mall, with threats of legal action against each other.

The mall, which others describe as a shopping centre due to its design, was built and completed in 2005 amid excitement in the community. However, all the joy evaporated into the air soon after opening as the end product was no where closer to what some had anticipated. It completely fell short of what most malls looked like, raising calls for an upgrade.

More than 14 years since the mall opened for business, the fight seems to be far from over as two crucial structures in the development of Khayelitsha, KDF and KCT are at loggerheads. KDF is a community structure driving development of the neighbourhood, while KCT is partially driven by government to co-ordinate and facilitate the development of Khayelitsha. However, the two structures are no embroiled in a war of words over the development of the mall, with the KDF demanding an immediate upgrade of the mall or for KCT to step down. KDF has threatened to take legal action if KCT members fail to heed their call.

Speaking on behalf of KDF task team Mawande Jara said they are giving KCT 10 months to speed up the process. He described the mall as a “disgrace to the people of Khayelitsha”. He accused members of KCT for dragging their feet in upgrading and extending the mall. “We believe that members of KCT failed to deliver what they promised us. The mall is of low standard when comparing it to the neighbouring mall such as Promenade,” he said.

Jara added that KCT board members were elected to represent the needs of the local community. He said as KDF they believed in the KCT board members whom he described as capable members with necessary skills to do the job. “It is clear that they are reluctant to do the job. They treated KCT as a private entity not a community trust,” said Jara. He accused the KCT of failure to acquire necessary land from the City of Cape Town for the development of the mall. He accused KCT of stealing from the poor and of not serving the interests of the community.

“The reason we demanded the mall in Khayelitsha was to serve the people of Khayelitsha. We wanted the community to do everything in Khayelitsha so that our economy can be able to grow. But that didn’t happen, instead our people were forced to go outside to do shopping elsewhere,” Jara stated.

Jara called for some amendments into the KCT structure to make sure it served the interests of Khayelitsha people. “There is no specific period for a member to be in a trust board. They can be board members till they die. Secondly, we want the trust to be accountable to the community (to the stakeholders like KDF). Thirdly, there is a dissolution clause in the KCT that states if the trust is collapsing the board members in the trust have a right to dissolve the trust and share the assets among themselves,” he stated.

KCT chief executive officer Mkhululi Gawula said the plans to upgrade the mall are underway. He said they are expecting construction to start as soon as they get reports from the architects. “Last month, on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 February, we had feasibility study about the construction of Khayelitsha mall and members of KDF were part of it. So, we are waiting for the feedback from that presentation at the end of April and we will take it from there,” said Gawula, adding that the City will release the land to the KCT in June this year.

Responding to allegations levelled against the KCT on the slow pace of development, Gawula said there was a “legal contestation” by one of the anchor stores after it was announced that the mall would be extended to accommodate other retailers.

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