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Tafelberg judgment vindicates calls for more equal city, say activists

The Western Cape High Court handed down judgment on Monday as it set aside the sale of the Tafelberg property in Sea Point to a private buyer.

Activists celebrate on 31 August 2020 a Wester Cape High Court ruling setting aside the Wester Cape government's sale of the Tafelberg property in Sea Point to a private buyer. Picture: @NdifunaUkwazi/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Inner-city housing activists said that a court ruling blocking the sale of the Tafelberg property in Sea Point vindicated their continued calls for a more equal and just city, one that promotes spatial, racial and economic inclusion.

The Western Cape High Court handed down judgment on Monday as it set aside the sale of the property to a private buyer.

The Western Cape government decided to sell the site to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million about five years ago but social housing activists, Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim the City, challenged the move, arguing that the land must be earmarked for affordable housing opportunities instead.

The court found that the province and the city didn't have suitable policies in place to facilitate and promote access to affordable housing and had not taken adequate steps to address the legacy of apartheid spatial planning in the Cape.

Ndifuna Ukwazi's Mandisa Shandu said that the court had ordered the province and the city to draw up a combined plan on how these branches of government will jointly address the legacy of spatial inequality in the city and present that policy to the court by no later than the end of May next year.

"The issues that we face are complex and deep and were preceded by hundreds of years of exclusion and so I think that it's critical for us to have a vision of a just future."

Premier Alan Winde said that government would study the more than 200-page judgment in consultation with legal counsel and the Public Works Department before determining its next step and issuing an in-depth reply.

"This was a site that the provincial government, an asset that was sold to specifically invest in an education department head office. This decision was taken in the previous dispensation five years ago. Obviously things have changed between then and now, specifically spatial development frameworks."

Winde said that in the meantime, several inner-city housing opportunities were under way.

"We've got the Conradie Hospital site that we've got on the go nicely, this is now in Pinelands. We've also transferred the Woodstock Hospital site to the city as well as the Helen Bowman site at Somerset Hospital that's already had the first round of approvals."

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