High court action update

Dear Civic, NGO and other supporters

I am writing to you as supporters of our campaign against the River Club development and/or supporters of our application for heritage status for the Two Rivers Urban Park.

The legal process of securing an interdict and review of the approvals by the City and DEADP is now awaiting a final date – we anticipate a date in November. We are very pleased to report that Advocate Tembeka Ngcukatoiba has agreed to represent us in this case. Advocate Ngcukatoiba is a respected silk, a public commentator, author and activist with an interest in the land question – entirely relevant to this case. He is also a brilliant advocate whom we hope will help us secure victory in court in this matter, notwithstanding the speed with which concrete is being cast on site.

The South African Heritage Resources Authority (SAHRA) came on a site visit yesterday to the area to familiarize themselves with the site. They are putting in place a process for grading the area as a national heritage site, as recommended to them by Heritage Western Cape. This is the result of an application in Feb 2020, supported by more than 60 Khoi groups, Civics and NGOs (of whom many are on this email). SAHRA are also considering a provisional protection order over the River Club under the National Heritage Resources Act to protect against imminent destruction of heritage resources (similar to that issued by HWC in 2018). All property owners in the site were alerted of the visit a few days prior to the visit. LLPT initially indicated that SAHRA officials would be welcome but they would not allow the nominators (Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Council, Observatory Civic Association and the Two Rivers Urban Park Assocaition) onto their property. However, when the SAHRA delegation arrived there was more obfuscation and a claim that because it was a building site, anyone going on site had to have a health and safety induction. SAHRA will return for a site visit next week. You can be sure that the LLPT will do as much as they can to delay this, as they did by appealing Heritage Western Cape’s provision protection order in 2018, whilst they get away with as much construction as they can.

Whilst SAHRA were at the TRUP site, a representative for the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works read out a communication from his Head of Department in which the Department questioned the validity of the SAHRA process. This was very disturbing that a government department is trying (again) to shut down a heritage process but not surprising. DTPW is the same department which has taken the Ministerial Appeal Tribunal to the High Court to review its findings on the River Club Provisional Protection Order – and, in particular, attempting to expunge the comments about government departments ganging up to suppress heritage processes. It is deeply ironic that DTPW is again seeking to do exactly the same thing it was called out for doing during the Appeal Tribunal – where the Tribunal bemoaned the fact that “instead of aligning the scarce resources, with experience skills and expertise to cooperatively solve complicated heritage issues cooperatively, internally, and in good faith”, government departments engaged in “fruitless and wasteful contestations” and “political posturing.” The DTPW appear intent on sabotaging any heritage protection in the area, which we believe is because they have plans to massively develop the area, and the River Club development was the key domino to open the rest of TRUP to the kind of development what will put economics ahead of sustainable development. You can see the DTPW rep in the picture reading from his text at Oude Molen with some quizzical looks from the SAHRA manager…

Thankfully, the SAHRA officials were not put off by this transparent attempt to derail a legitimate process under national law. The heritage grading process and the consideration of provisional protection under the National Heritage Resources Act are now firmly on SAHRA’s agenda now.

Our priority remains raising funds for our court case and we would really welcome contributions from our supporters and suggestions. We are really at a critical point where we have to raise enough funds for our legal fees to get the interdict and review in place. Anyone or any organization wanting to support us with financial donations, can do so at our fundraising site or directly via EFT here:
Bank name: Mercantile Bank
Branch code: 450105
Account name: Observatory Civic Association
Account number: 1050926382
Account type: current

If you have any suggestions for other fundraising options to help us to stop this Goliath, please let us know.
Much thanks for your support