Blok Urban Developers may have to pay a R250 000 legal bill in addition to their own, if all goes according to the plan of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association. The association has filed an affidavit saying that they are unable to pay the legal costs of the protracted legal battles which have taken place surrounding several issues in Bo-Kaap, relating to the developers. The association says that the community is indigent and accordingly wants the court to grant an order which would see the developers paying all related legal costs.
“We won’t be able to find that kind of money,” said secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association, Jacky Poking.
BLOK sold their property to Prime point properties in 2018 but failed to disclose this fact to the court and only did so upon the official transfer of the property. BLOK has indicated via correspondence that they will withdraw the application subject to each party paying their own costs.
“The Bo-Kaap community is livid and disgusted with this. BLOK acknowledged that the respondents were all indigent and therefore do not want to pursue the issue of costs against them. They further threatened the respondents with costs if they fail to accept the offer of withdrawal. BLOK has caused so much trauma, pain and hardship to the community and they have absolutely no regard for the cultural, political and social-economic realities of the Bo-Kaap people,” said Poking.
“Instead of looking at us finding the money to pay for this, we should take a step back and look at the interdict which the judge explained to us has now been set aside. If you break the case down, you can see that there is no case. That was already established in February – so the costs should be paid. We’re not being unreasonable.”
Poking indicated that several cases filed by the developers against the Bo-Kaap community have been abandoned and that accordingly, the legal bills of the respondents [Bo-Kaap community] should be paid by the complainant/s.
There was concern that complainant companies might resort to shifting assets in an attempt to avoid liability for possible cost payment orders.
“It’s important to note that the judge said to them [the complainants], ‘Should, hypothetically speaking, the respondents win – do you have money [to pay for the legal costs]?’,” said Poking.
“He asked this because he’s seen how companies under restructuring move assets out so that when cost orders are granted against them, there is no company – it’s just a shell.”
Poking says that the request for legal bills to be paid by the complainants should not come as a surprise considering that the developers knew from the start of the litigation process that the community was not wealthy.
She also says that the complainants had attempted to intimidate them in this regard.
“In terms of how Blok has reacted, their initial offer was that everybody pays their own costs. Their reason is that they know that we are all indigent…they said if anyone opposed the offer of paying their own costs, they’d be slapped with the other’s costs as well. That’s intimidation.”