Human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu has welcomed a Western Cape High Court ruling setting aside the sale of a Tafelberg property to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School in central Cape Town.
According to Sisulu, the judgment has made it possible for the government – through the Social Housing and Regulatory Authority (SHRA) – to build housing units.
It would also help redress “spatial apartheid” in Cape Town, the legacy of segregation imposed by the apartheid government through its pre-1994 spatial plan.
“We remain committed to responding to the housing needs of our people. This will only be achieved if we have access to well-located land parcels and spheres of government availing such state-owned land for human settlements development,” said Sisulu.
“I sincerely hope that all affected parties will respect and abide by the high court ruling and put first the needs of the people we are here to serve. We should all focus on restoring the dignity of our people through the provision of decent and affordable accommodation.”
Sisulu acknowledged various parties for their efforts in ensuring that these prime pieces of land were set aside for social housing.
Over the next few years, the government has set itself a target to deliver 30,000 social housing units in various provinces, including the Western Cape.
Sisulu said the City of Cape Town was one of the metros with the highest housing backlogs, and the availability of the Tafelberg property would make it possible for the authority to make a dent on that figure.
The sale of the Tafelberg site has been a contentious issue for some time. The 1.7-hectare site, just 3km from the Cape Town CBD, has become a bone of contention between activists who want affordable housing within the CBD.
Three years ago, the site was sold to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135m.
The court found the province did not first offer the land to the provincial housing department before it sold the property, and that the provincial government erred when it concluded that the site did not fall within a restructuring zone.
Land rights activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi, which was part of the court case, said the court ruling affirmed the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town’s “obligations to combat spatial apartheid by progressively giving people access to land and housing in central Cape Town”.
Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Mandisa Shandu said the ruling was a great victory for people who have been struggling for access to land for affordable housing.
The activists have fought the sale of the Tafelberg property for four years, arguing the well-located piece of public land in Sea Point must be used for social housing.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said they take note of the judgment and would study it.
By Mpuzi Zuzile – TimesLIVE