Stadium battle turns sour for tenants

2019-06-25 06:00
City of Cape Town has finally locked the premises occupied by local businesses and non-profit organisations at Athlone Stadium. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

City of Cape Town has finally locked the premises occupied by local businesses and non-profit organisations at Athlone Stadium. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Tenants that resisted evictions at the Athlone Stadium lost their case against the City of Cape Town at the Western Cape High Court on Friday 21 June.

The matter was taken to court following the tenant’s alleged ignorance of the last notice issued by the City of Cape Town.

The notice stated that tenants were expected to vacate the stadium by Saturday 15 June, but it was later extended to last Wednesday. However, some of the tenants failed to obey, leading to them being locked out last Thursday.

According to reports they spent the afternoon outside the entrance on Hickory Road.

One of the tenants Granville Carlson, CEO of Sunrise Records, says the ruling was unfair and would be appealed with the help of an anonymous donor that has offered to cover their legal fees.

“I told the judge it was the law versus human being. Basically, they are evicting non-profit organisations, disappointing 100 000 youth,” Carlson says.

Since the last article (“Eviction worrisome,” People’s Post, 4 June) about eight tenants were still on the premises, and Cape Music Institute (CMI) and Cotton and Stitch have since moved out. Among the remaining are Sunrise, Itheko Sports Management, South African Football Association Cape Town (Safa CT) and Prime Logistic Solutions who have been renting suites on the second and third floors of the stadium since 2015.

“The judgement says we all should vacate the stadium and we will need to reapply for new leases,” Carlson says.

As claimed before, in a statement, another tenant, Noore Nacerodien, the chairperson for Cape Town Softball Association and a member for the United Coalition for Sport and Community Based Organisations, says no timeous notice was given by the City nor had shown a clear plan about the future of the stadium.

Nacerodien said: “The stadium holds so much history, yet the city has become ignorant of it. In February, the Mayor [Dan] Plato stated that ‘no tenant would be evicted’.” He says the coalition would meet and discuss a way forward.

Tenants previously blamed the executive director for economic opportunities and asset management, Kelcy Le Keur for persistently ordering they leave despite Plato’s promises.

Le Keur issued a statement (“Stadium closed for maintenance,” People’s Post, 21 May) announcing the last notice.

Following the court’s decision, Le Keur insisted that the City had engagements with occupants

“Contrary to what has been perpetuated in the media, the City has continually and actively been engaging since November 2018, with the affected parties for all non-operational stadium occupants to meet the necessary compliance issues in order to ensure the continual operation of the stadium,” Le Keur said.

She says the implications of the non-compliance, such as the shutting down of the stadium and the impact on the broader community, were highlighted in every engagement with the occupants, including the administrative arm of SAFA Cape Town. She says the refusal of a few occupants to comply has led to the shut-down of the facility last Thursday.

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