Talks on controversial R4bn River Club development intensify

A Google Earth screenshot of Mowbray with the River Club near the centre of the image.


Cape Town – Talks around the controversial River Club redevelopment have intensified with the First Nations Collective now coming out in support of the R4 billion proposed project.

The redevelopment of the River Club property into a mixed-use development set to include shops, restaurants, offices, dwelling units and a hotel has been opposed by the Goringhaicona Khoena Council, which argued it would destroy the 100-year-old floodplain at the Two Rivers Urban Park where three rivers converge.

The council also argued that apart from accommodating seasonal migrating birds, indigenous flora and fauna, it was the cremation ground of the early Quena (Otentottu) people.

The First Nations Collective yesterday joined the debate, pledging its support for the proposed redevelopment.

According to the group, they comprise senior indigenous Khoi and San leaders in the Peninsula, including the Gorinhaiqua and Gorachouqua.

Yesterday Gorinhaiqua chief !Garu Zenzile Khoisan said the redeveloped River Club would have a cultural, heritage and media centre that would commemorate the First Nations history, which they welcomed.

“We have openly engaged with independent facilitator Rudewaan Arendse of AFMAS Solutions. This participation has resulted in an ‘Intangibles Report’, which is the first of its kind in the country.

“It serves to locate the River Club site within the indigenous narrative of the broader Two Rivers cultural landscape, and the Liesbeek River that links the site together. It makes recommendations on how the First Nations can be represented and meaningfully involved in the redevelopment project. The report has been submitted to Heritage Western Cape.

“We are confident these processes have contributed to a redevelopment proposal which acknowledges, embraces, protects and celebrates our indigenous narrative. Most importantly, it will secure a legacy for us and our future generations,” Khoisan said.

But Tauriq Jenkins, high commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoena Council, which has opposed the development from the start, said the collective never consulted with them, and did not speak on behalf of all Khoi and San people.

Jenkins is also the chairperson of the Xarra Restorative Justice Forum at the Centre for African Studies at UCT.

He said the proposed media centre could not be considered “progress” in terms of historical and restorative justice.

“Our heritage cannot be bought and sold. Having a media centre in the middle of a concrete box on land with historical significance and importance is a travesty.

“We reject the plan, we want to protect our heritage with heritage status,” Jenkins said.

The Goringhaicona Khoena Council was expected to meet this morning to discuss the issue.

Cape Times