From the news desk

BK Civic slams Blok for “manipulation” of legal process

The interdict application by Blok against Bokaap residents has been postponed until June 10th – in order for both parties to deal with a number of procedural matters. It comes after Blok served papers on nine protestors recently – some of whom have provided affidavits in support of the Bo Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association’s legal action against BLOK.

The developer is constructing a 12-story apartment in Lion street, which residents are opposed to. During the court hearing today, the judge was told that the application was not served on the additional nine yet. The Civic Association says the joinder of these activists are a clear attempt to intimidate residents speaking out against BLOK. On the 24 April, lawyers for both parties will meet to discuss the consolidation of applications.

At the height of the protests in Ramadan last year, Blok applied for an interdict against members of the Bo-Kaap community who had protested against the construction at the Lion Street site. It later withdrew the interdict citing that they had done it in the “spirit of de-escalation”.

On 9 November 2018, Blok however sought a second interdict against the entire Bo-Kaap community to refrain it from peacefully protesting against the delivery of a crane to its construction site in Lion Street. The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BOKCRA) was initially excluded from the application but in December 2018, it requested to be joined to the legal proceedings as the 8th Respondent.  This enabled BOKCRA to raise its concern with the courts regarding what it called the “contrived abuse of the legal process” perpetrated by Blok against the Bo-Kaap community.

The Civic Association believes this forms part of Bloks  ‘Strategic Litigation Against Peaceful Protestors’ (SLAPP).

“These are common legal mechanisms brought by capitalist developers against community activists from historically disadvantaged communities who oppose developments,” said BOCKRA in a statement.

The Civic said it was inconceivable that the identifiable respondents in the second interdict application was the Bo-Kaap Neighbourhood Watch and its Chairperson, notwithstanding the fact that there was a clear lack of any concrete evidence to support their inclusion in the interdict.

“Blok made sweeping, unsubstantiated allegations when it brought its application before the court and failed to disclose that it had not complied with the terms of the first interdict order by Judge Henney in July 2018, ordering the developer to engage the community through the South African Human Rights Commission.”

It believes this “manipulation” of the legal process resulted in the altercation on 20 November 2018, where residents who were peacefully protesting against the delivery of the crane were met with severe use of force- including firing stun grenades- by police authorities.  Several persons were injured and five community residents were arrested for contempt of the interdict order and a traffic offence (blocking a road).  These persons were all unaware of the terms of the court order which had not been served on them.  The charges against the five arrested were however withdrawn by the prosecutor.

In a new twist of events, last week Blok served papers on nine protestors, (including the five arrested), who all provided confirmatory affidavits in support of BOKCRA’s position against Blok.  The lawyers acting for the Civic, said that the joinder of these protestors and activists are a clear attempt to intimidate and silence the voices of Bo-Kaap who are speaking up against Blok developers.

The Civic has also pointed to the fact that Blok’s law firm, Norton Rose Fullbright, who also represent the Bo Kaap Youth Movement (BKYM) – has been captured by Blok.

“It’s ironic that BLOK has not joined any of the directors of BKYM who allegedly entered into a confidential ‘collaboration agreement’ with the developer, without the community’s consent or knowledge.”

Judge Gamble postponed the case to the 10th June to take into consideration that the month of Ramadan and to give parties sufficient time to prepare

In court, he directly addressed the residents, saying the matter is of significance to everyone in the community and the owner of the property and there are a number of procedural matters that need to be seen to. The Civic is confident the case will be heard on that date.

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