Civic groups protest at controversial Cape Town development site

Protests at "SIte B". (Kamva Somdyala, News24)
Protests at "SIte B". (Kamva Somdyala, News24)

Lobby group Reclaim the City (RTC) and the Social Justice Coalition protested at the Foreshore's "Site B" on Tuesday over the City of Cape Town's controversial sale of the site to Growthpoint Properties.

In a press release, the groups said the City had lost up to R140m on the sale – "a gift of our best land to one of the wealthiest companies on the JSE".

"Whoever took the decision [to undervalue the land] must account and make sure they get that money back from Growthpoint so that the money can be used for people to afford them basic services, especially in informal settlements," said Axolile Notywala, general secretary of the Social Justice Coalition in Cape Town.

The groups were supported by NGOs Unite Behind and Ndifuna Ukwazi.

RTC leader Karen Hendricks said part of their protest was to challenge property power.

"Our message is clear: land must be for the people and not for profit and we are here to reclaim our land. City officials have sold this land – our land. The same City that should be working for the people."

Notywala added that they were hoping to engage with City officials and citizens alike to "show them how other people of Cape Town are living".

Growthpoint's asset manager for commercial offices, Timothy Irvine, told News24 that the current protest had not been not approved. They were in conversation with their legal representative, as well as those of the RTC group.

He confirmed that Growthpoint would be approaching the courts to interdict the protest.

'Working class cannot afford the housing'

Bevil Lucas, also from RTC said the "undervaluing" of the land was an injustice to the working class of Cape Town, and couldn't understand why there was a supposed discount.

"The working class who work in the inner city cannot afford the housing in the city and, for those who have been campaigning for low-cost housing, it is clear that the City has done an injustice."

Irvine said they had read about the allegations in relation to the undervaluing of the property.

"We bought the property at a public auction, so while the allegations are there, we cannot comment on them. The investigation of these allegations is up to the City of Cape Town."

In September, former mayor Patricia de Lille requested a forensic investigation into what had transpired during the sale process. Lucas wants the person responsible to be held accountable.

READ: De Lille requests investigation into Foreshore property sale

"We have facts to assist with the investigation [that the former mayor called for] so that whatever action necessary is taken against the person who was responsible for the sale."

The City meanwhile said the probe was ongoing.

"A forensic investigation is underway and it is being treated as a priority matter. The City cannot commit to timelines as it could hamper the investigation.

"Growthpoint’s application for development rights is being processed and due process will be followed," said James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for assets and facilities management.

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