Fighting for land

2016-03-08 06:00
SARDA says they will continue to fight for their land that they have used for free therapeutic lessons over the last 30 years through horse riding.

SARDA says they will continue to fight for their land that they have used for free therapeutic lessons over the last 30 years through horse riding.

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The South Africa Riding for the Disabled Association (Sarda) has not been allowed to get involved in a legal process that could end in the association losing the land it leases to operate on in Constantia. But the association says it will appeal and try again.

Sarda applied to be an intervening party in a legal challenge to the awarding of erf 142 in Constantia to the Sadien family in a land claims settlement.

Mokotedi Mpshe, acting judge in the Land Claims Court, ruled against Sarda’s application to intervene. An intervening party is regarded as a third party who intervenes in a case in which it has an interest. Such an intervening party may join either the plaintiff or defendant’s side.

Belinda Thom, Sarda chairperson, says the non-profit organisation will apply for leave to appeal this decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Mpshe’s ruling was delivered in September last year, after he heard the application in the High Court in August, but his decision was conveyed to Sarda’s counsel only last month. Sarda has 14 days to apply for leave to appeal the judge’s decision.

The ruling is part of an ongoing legal tussle in which Sarda says it is fighting for its existence in Constantia after the Land Claims Court awarded the land on which Sarda operates to the Sadien family in March 2013.

The family was initially given a 10-hectare piece of land, but it was smaller than what they were dispossessed from, so the court amended its order to an equivalent piece of land. This led to an 8.9-hectare portion of erf 142 being transferred to the family.

Sarda has operated on this property for more than 30 years.

Sarda was not notified at any stage of the change in ownership of its leased land. The association only became aware of this when a concerned neighbour and a newspaper reporter alerted it.

Sarda offers free therapeutic riding lessons to children and adults living with physical and learning disabilities.

There are more than 180 beneficiaries of this specialised service who reap the physical and psychological rewards it offers.

The social benefits of its programme positively affect the participants’ communities over the greater part of Cape Town, the association says.

In the 43 years of Sarda’s existence, the organisation’s good work has improved the lives of hundreds of riders, their families and the communities they live in. Thirteen special needs schools in Cape Town recognise Sarda’s value and apply for their scholars to be included in the therapeutic riding programme every year.

Sarda says it has been treated unfairly and unjustly by the original and subsequent judgments.

In a previous hearing in 2014 Thom explained that the land was awarded to the Sadien family on the basis that it was vacant, which it was not, so it should not have been awarded as vacant land to a land claimant.

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