From the news desk

Bo Kaap residents cautiously optimistic after withdrawal of interdict

By Zaahidah Meyer

Bo Kaap residents are expected to hold a public meeting on Monday after property development company Blok withdrew an interdict application that prevented activists and residents from going anywhere near its building site in Lion street, where a 12 storey apartment complex is being built.The community of the Bo-Kaap were interdicted from interfering with the work of a developer trying to demolish the St Monica’s Maternity Hospital earlier this year. Judge Robert Henney granted the interdict while Bo-Kaap residents represented themselves against the interdict sought by Blok developers.

The application for the interdict of which was announced on a loud hailer two days before the hearing, cited violent acts committed by civic organisations, including a petrol bomb at their construction site, as part of the reason for the interdict. It further prohibited anyone from going near the development alongside St Monica’s Home.

The angry residents said the short notice of the interdict gave them no time to get legal representatives to defend them and denied that the violence mentioned could be attributed to the respondents.
Ebrahim Christian, who was specified in the interdict said:

“The community is angry. It’s not touching one person but the entire community. He’s a big developer fighting a poor community.

The development company has since withdrawn the interdict and this notion was met with confusion and relief at the same time. Chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Ratespayers and Civic Association, Osman Shabodien said that he is being careful in deciding whether this is good or bad news.

He added that the intention behind the withdrawal should be reflected upon as the construction is still going ahead as normal. He further added that he was not going to speculate as to who the perpetrators behind the attacks on the construction were.

Shabodien said that there has not been any consultation between Bo-Kaap’s legal team and Blok so far but their legal team would be meeting up with Blok soon to make heads or tails of the situation from a legal perspective.

Shabodien added that Bo-Kaap residents blame the city council for getting them into the situation.
Despite the interdict stating that its sole purpose was to protect the innocent people on site, Shabodien said that no people had been injured.

He added that Bo-Kaap residents were unified in their fight against gentrification and that they were not prepared to compromise on their heritage or traditions. The public meeting will take place at 8pm at the Boorhaanol Hall.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Judicial Council is of the view that despite the interdict being withdrawn the concerns of the community must still be addressed. It appeals to the Human Right Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the on-going threats to the last standing and oldest urban Muslim Community in South Africa.

“The culture, traditions, religious, and social milieu, of Muslims are being threatened by gentrification and multiple developments in the Bo-Kaap. It appeals to the city of Cape Town to place an immediate moratorium on the passing of building plans until it has met with the Bo-Kaap community,” said MJC secretary general Shaykh Isgaak Taliep.

“The Bo-Kaap community contributes to the GDP of the Western Cape through tourism. The hospitality, culture, and traditions of the Bo-Kaap community are being exploited for financial gain by the City of Cape Town and private businesses, without the residents and community benefitting from it.”

The MJC said its concerned in the matter in which BLOK used the High Court to seek an interim order against an entire community who has peacefully protested within their constitutional right citing the “sixth respondent is interdicted and restrained with immediate effect from vandalising, sabotaging, committing arson or damaging any of the applicant’s property including but not limited to its construction site at 40 Lion Street, Bo-Kaap …”.

In addition to the above concerns, the MJC called upon the SAHRC to investigate the legality of sale at 40 Lion Street, Bo-Kaap and erf 2970, 49 Lion Street which the community believes to be the cause of contention and recent protest in Bo-Kaap. The MJC equally calls on the SAHRC to investigate how the Heritage Council of Western Cape has consented to the overscale of BLOK’s development that is not in line with the heritage of homes situated next to or close to it. The MJC further supports the call by the community for an investigation into the allegation that BLOK’s development violates Section 25 of the Constitution.

As the central religious authority for Muslims in the Western Cape, the MJC is concerned about the violation of the rights of Education as it is reported that schools close to BLOK’s site of development are adversely affected by the construction. The MJC has called for a thorough investigation into this serious allegation by the community.

The ulema body has appealed to both the Provincial and National Governments to protect the living heritage of the Bo-Kaap community and to stop all developments in the area that is directly affecting the social, cultural, and traditional practices of the community.

“As a sign of good faith, the MJC appeals to BLOK to seize all construction until the SAHRC has concluded their investigation.”

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