While the Solomon family have successfully obtained the rights to their farm land in Constantia, the family now faces criticism from residents apposing their plans for the land. The family plans to develop a Shoprite centre on their land, which residents opposed in an online poll that was conducted by the Constantia Rate Payers and Residents Association (CRRA).
The land in question is today divided into two properties, spanning an area of 14 562m². The family farmed the land from 1902 and resided on the farm for 65 years prior to being expelled under the Group Areas Act. The family’s proposed development would span 7 811m² of their land.
Speaking to VOC, founder of the Solomon Family Trust and representative of the family, Rashaad Solomon explains that the family over a 17 year period battled to reclaim their rights to the piece of land.
Solomon says that while the family has enjoyed a long history within the area, the farm has been demolished between 1966 and 1976 and was subsequently converted to a municipal dumping ground.
He says that the family’s plans to refurbish the land have been contested by residents of the area.
“So nobody objected to that, to dump rubbish. Now that we want to develop something that is environmentally acceptable to the entire family and to bring back some dignity to people that have been there before – now everyone is objecting,” Solomon said.
In light of growing criticism, Solomon says that the CRRA need to consult with expelled families to map the way forward.
He says that arguments in opposition of the family’s plans to develop a Shoprite centre on their reclaimed land is unfounded, since the Constantia Village shopping centre is located on land that was previously a vineyard.
In light of the family’s plans, residents have voiced concern that the Shoprite centre will not attract customers from within the area.
“What’s the difference between Shoprite and everything else? It’s just a different label. Now the apartheid label was always pasted there.”
He says that irrespective of the plans for the land and resident’s critique, the Solomon family has a right to develop their land as they wish for the benefit of the family.
He said that the CRRA is misinformed about the true history of the area and is not taking into consideration of the suffering of those who were expelled.
“We have our rights. Those people have disregarded and disrespected the constitution of this country. I’ll sit in an open debate with the CRRA and inform them of the history of Constantia,” Solomon continued.