The Cape Town High Court heard closing arguments in the Tafelberg property case on Friday but one of the applicants in the matter, Ndfiuna Uwkwazi, says they only expect judgement as late as May or June next year.
The case which has been taken up by social movement Reclaim the City and NPO Ndifuna Ukwazi among others is widely understood to symbolise an ideological battle between spatial justice and redress in Cape Town against the continuation of market-price sales with an apparent disregard for the arguable need for government-implemented redress and inclusion.
The applicants in the case are fighting the Western Cape Provincial Government’s decision to sell a centrally located property to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School and have essentially gone up against three parties in court: the Western Cape Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town and the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
A notable point Judge Patrick Gamble mentioned in court last week was reportedly that local and provincial government had not developed any social housing in the inner city. This was a point that Ndifuna Ukwazi executive director, Mandisa Shandu says was made “after we made submission that in the post-democratic era, housing built by the City hasn’t been done in central Cape Town.” She says the point is significant when one considers that “the location of land is important for redress.”
“Interestingly, although they may have challenged the definition of central Cape Town, both the City and Province conceded and agreed that they hadn’t built – to date – an affordable housing unit in central Cape Town,” said Shandu.
Shandu says that at the heart of closing arguments was supporting evidence submitted before the court “around the increasing spatial inequality and that the sale of the Tafelberg property for a short-term capital injection toward building offices for the Western Cape Education Department was blindingly short-sighted.”
“Tafelberg would be a critical step toward really using land to transform the city and make it more accessible,” she said.
Separately, the national Department of Human Settlements reportedly also launched a case against the Western Cape Government for not consulting the national minister on the matter prior to making the decision to sell the property and Advocate Emma Webber who spoke for the Social Housing Regulatory Authority in court reportedly “said that the problem could have been avoided altogether had the Province simply conferred with the national minister.”