City wins the irony award

From Mother City News 30 June – 26 July

In what is either a well conceived counter-intuitive public relations manoeuvre, or the possibly embarrassing result of a democratic process, two of the people who have been leading the persistent and dedicated opposition to the River Club development have been presented with civic awards. 

The City of Cape Town – with the exception of the Environmental Management Department – have supported the River Club development every step of the way. 

On 29 June, two of their most vocal critics, individually received community service awards from subcouncil 16 chair Matthew Kempthorne at a Covid controlled ceremony.  

Observatory Civic Association chair Professor Leslie London received the Leadership Award, while  

Chair at AIXARRA Restorative Justice Forum at UCT’s Centre for African Studies, Tauriq Jenkins, received the Community Bravery Award.  

London said he never knew he was nominated and the invitation to receive the award came as a complete surprise.  

“I could not stop asking if this was for real,” stated London, who received his award while wearing a ‘Make Liesbeek Matter’ t-shirt and carrying a sign stating 50,000+ voices matter. Stop River Club redevelopment’, in reference to the number signatures on the petition opposing the development. 

Jenkins, who also wore the 50,000+ sign on his jacket has not only been involved in opposing the River Club development, but as a SA Human Rights Commission monitor has been on the frontline of opposing the City’s demolition of people’s homes, and fought against the infamous Strandfontein camp the City set up to contain homeless people at the beginning of lockdown level 5 last year.  

He said the award ceremony was “definitely awkward”. 

“If it was a political attempt to get us to acquiesce, that’s definitely not going to happen,” he said. 

An independent panel is believed to have chose those to be awarded from among nominations received.  

The press release from mayor Dan Plato’s office on 30 June stated the City had put out a call for nominations, “looking for those whose creative community service work impacts the community positively”.  

“These individuals working in communities are heroes who love their neighbourhoods and are passionate about creating a positive impact in various ways,” stated Plato. 

“Their involvement is crucial in helping to ensure greater community participation and working towards unity and progress. Creating an inclusive society whose focus is on the upliftment of others requires all of our efforts.”