Khoisan leaders head to court to challenge Amazon HQ development in CT

The Western Cape High Court will hear argument against the company's plans to build on historic and culturally significant land.

An artist's impression of the new R4 billion mixed-use space at the River Club. Picture: https://theriverclubct.co.za/gallery/

CAPE TOWN - Khoisan leaders in Cape Town are on Wednesday legally challenging the development of tech giant Amazon's new headquarters.

The Western Cape High Court will hear argument against the company's plans to build on historic and culturally significant land.

Seven years ago the Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust bought over 14 hectares of land in Observatory in Cape Town and last year they were given the green light to start developing the new home of Amazon.

However, that land is sacred for the Khoi, being the first site of their resistance to colonialist invasions.

High commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council, Tauriq Jenkins, said that conserving the surrounding environment and river system was just as important.

"Indigenous communities have a symbiotic relationship with the river, with the land and the crisis that we face at the moment is because of the movement away from that practice," Jenkins said.

Contrary to the green light given by the City of Cape Town and the Environmental Affairs Department, Western Cape Heritage had tried to issue a provisional protection order for the land, to give them a chance to access its cultural significance.

However, Jenkins said that even with the pending court battle, the developers had already started building Amazon's new offices.

"The developer has decided at their own risk not only to proceed with the build but to capitalise quite significantly the rate at which the build has been done," he said.

The urgent interdict is to be heard by the high court over the next three days.