Press Release 16 February 2023
On Monday 20 February 2023, the Tafelberg matter will be heard at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
In 2017, the case made headlines when it reversed the sale of public land in Sea Point, formerly the Tafelberg Remedial School, to a private company for R135 million.
Activist groups made up of families and workers in the Sea Point area have petitioned and protested for the site to be used for affordable housing since at least the 1980s. When the decision to sell the property was made by then Premier Helen Zille, the activists, having formed the social movement Reclaim the City, challenged the sale in court with the assistance of Ndifuna Ukwazi.
At the heart of the matter is the government’s obligations to promote equitable access to land and to redress spatial apartheid and injustice through the provision of affordable housing in central Cape Town. It is about the fact that almost three decades since democracy and until the launch of this matter, no affordable housing had been built by the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town in the primary spaces of exclusion and displacement – central Cape Town – and that the actions of government have left these spaces inaccessible to poor and working class Black (African, Coloured and Indian) people which is exacerbated by the continued sale of public land.
says Disha Govender, Head of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Law Centre
The issues before the Supreme Court of Appeal include the clarification and compliance of the WC Govt and City with its constitutional obligations and key laws that relate to how the government disposes of land and how the public are able to participate in decisions regarding the disposal of land.
The matter will have far reaching consequences and will be of importance to all people who are interested in ensuring that public land is used for public good.
While parts of High Court Judgment are being appealed, the order setting aside the sale of the Tafelberg site is not on appeal and there is nothing stopping the Western Cape Government, the owners of Tafelberg, from developing a mixed-use, mixed income site on the premises, as several feasibility studies have shown is possible.
Affordable housing is of utmost importance to the poor and working class, but even those formally educated and employed are struggling to keep with the increase in the cost of living in the Mother City.
Properties along the Atlantic Seaboard can enter the market in the realm of R100 million – without proactive action from the state, the cost of well-located homes will push more and more South Africans out of affording to live anywhere in Cape Town. Black (African, Coloured and Indian) people remain economically excluded from the areas that they were legally barred from under apartheid.”
“We urgently need affordable housing to avoid overcrowding in homes and an increase in informal settlements and homelessness. Approximately 75% of Cape Town’s households earn less than R22 000 per month and only 34%, or just over a third of houses cater for this segment of the population.
says Robyn Park-Ross, researcher for Ndifuna Ukwazi
With many domestic workers finding employment along the Atlantic Seaboard, the basic minimum wage for domestic workers is a clear indicator of the financial strain these women face. Working in areas like Sea Point and travelling home to areas like Khayelitsha, would cost at least R100-a-day in return-fare on a minibus taxi. This could mean spending R2000 a month, more than half the minimum wage of R3710, on transport alone, before being able to purchase groceries, school clothes, electricity or pay rent.
We, the workers of Sea Point have been calling for housing in the area since 1996 and we have never been taken seriously. We wanted a place to call home. People are homeless and the Tafelberg site is the only hope. It should be released for housing.
says Elizabeth Gqoboka, a leader of Reclaim the City
Since 2013, at least nine feasibility studies have proven again and again that social housing (a type of affordable housing) is possible on the land. The Province’s own feasibility study determined that at least 270 social housing units could be built on the site. In 2017 NU’s feasibility study demonstrated how the site could accommodate up to 437 families in 316 social housing units and 121 market rate homes.
*Ndifuna Ukwazi has obtained permission from the Supreme Court of Appeal to live stream the hearing and will screen the event onto its Facebook page