From the news desk

Solomon family hails Constantia development decision

The Hadji Abdullah Solomon Family Trust  says they feel vindicated by a court tribunal’s decision, which gives the green light for a commercial development in Constantia. Their land on Ladies Mile Road which had been forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act during the apartheid era, was returned to the Solomon family through the government’s restitution process. The plan proposed by the Trust is to build a shopping complex, which Constantia residents have fiercely objected to.

Trust spokesperson Rashaad Solomon says they are elated with the tribunal’s decision.

“It’s a victory for the Solomon Family trust. We need to thank Allah SWT for this blessing as we suffered and struggled for the past 20 years to get to this point. This is a milestone within the land restitution process,” he said.

“We had full support from the city council and the tribunal, which confirmed that the development will go ahead as planned.”

The family received their title deeds in December 2012, following years of legal processes and red-tape. The family’s options were to take the issue to court, or to handle it through the land claims commission, the latter of which would take a longer period of time. They opted for the direct route, which was going to court, ulimately a very expensive process. An out-of-court settlement was then agreed upon in 2010 in which the City of Cape Town agreed to transfer the land.

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.

The Constantia Ratepayers and Residents Association (CRRA) are not happy with the outcome and will push ahead with challenging the court’s decision. Solomon said 55 residents have objected.

“We followed the process in terms of the court order. They are still objecting to the development. The chairman of the tribunal explained to them [residents] the requirements of the law, but they still insist they want to appeal.
Solomon said the new development would be called Solomon Sqaure and would include a Shoprite Checkers store. The Solomon Family Trusts will remain the land owners and the Site Development Plan has been lodged on behalf of the family trusts.

He explained that Shoprite Checkers Properties is the property developer and will lease the land and property from the Solomon Family Trusts for an extended period, with Checkers being the anchor tenant.

“We will now assist the other Solomon families to regain the title deeds of their land so that they can also, at their own will, join the development. We want it to be recorded in history that the people’s wasteland can be developed into something that will support the community like our forefathers did in the past,” he said.

“They provided for us through the masjid they built, the makbara and other social needs of the community in Constantia. We will address all these issues going forward InshaAllah.”

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