Open letter to all civics in Cape Town

Dear Civic members

I write to you to appeal for your Civic association’s support for the applicants in the River Club case following two months of sustained dirty tricks intended, as we believe, to protect the LLPT from being held to account for contempt of Judge Goliath’s historic interdict against the LLPT in March 2022.

When the LLPT re-started construction on the site, they were brazenly courting contempt of court and the Observatory Civic Association and the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council lodged urgent papers in the Cape High Court to hold the developers in contempt.

What then happened was a serious of legal delays, which we believe were orchestrated to suit the developers, including the sudden appearance of a group of Goringhaicona individuals claiming to challenge the authority of Tauriq Jenkins to represent the GKKITC. This legal strategy has yet to be tested in court, but it has served to delay the contempt hearing.

Now the OCA is facing an onslaught including an anonymous website ( established to smear the name of the OCA chair and the GKKITC High Commissioner – the applicants in the case. The Website further encourages members of the community to join the OCA to remove it from the court case. At the same time, a former OCA chairperson, who, as late as May 2022, indicated no problem with the OCA’s legal action, has suddenly and aggressively emerged to claim the OCA is acting without mandate, is trading recklessly, is financially bankrupt, and is antidemocratic, none of which has any basis in any fact.
He has called on the City to investigate the Civic and has openly posted on the LLPT (developers’) website a call to take over the OCA to remove it from the case. His comment also disparages Judge Goliath’s decision as wrong in law (even while admitting he has not read the decision).

We believe all of this is an attack on Civic democracy by forces who are seeking to allow privilege and power to get away with unlawful behaviour. The act of recommencing construction is prima facie unlawful. The decision to approve the development are increasingly look vulnerable to a finding that they were taken unlawfully when the matter gets to review. So, with a case that is not looking promising, we believe that elements who want this development to proceed are now playing the ‘man’ and not the ball and are willing to engage in dubious and likely illegal behaviour to capture the Civic so as to immobilise it from acting.

This is not the first time the OCA has been subject to such attack. In 2017, a developer gerrymandered an AGM vote by bringing in supporters who were not eligible to vote in a fraudulent act. The developer and his supporters were caught out and the fraudulent management committee was thrown out at a historic Special General Meeting in 2017. This was victory for bottoms-up democracy because Observatory residents rallied behind the truth and behind justice. We are confident that Observatory residents will not be taken in by glossy, defamatory pamphlets or a website in which an unnamed person/s claim to tell Obs residents what is “bestforobs” when Obs residents can decide for themselves. We are, however, aware that the forces in favour of this development have lots of money and influence so will try their hardest to undermine us.

This is a struggle for Civic Democracy in a City that treats public participation as a tickbox exercise and which consistently sides with rich and powerful developers at the expense of communities and, we believe, at the expense of justice.

Please support this statement below by indicating your support to [email protected], and indicate what organisation you represent.

Please also share with any other Civics or Heritage or NGOs or other bodies you think want to sign on – we are looking for organisations to sign on, not individuals.

Leslie London