River Club development work in ‘willful’ contempt of court order: picketers

Matter to be decided by the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday. The site will house Amazon’s African HQ.
  • Members of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and the Observatory Civic Association are headed back to court to stop the River Club development.

  • In March the Western Cape High Court interdicted the developers after finding that there had been no “meaningful” consultation with all affected parties.

  • But the developers are appealing the interdict ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal. They claim this automatically suspends the High Court’s interdict.

Members of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and the Observatory Civic Association are headed back to court this week. They are accusing the developers of the River Club Development of “willful” contempt of a court order which interdicted work on the site pending a judicial review on the approvals given to the R4.5-billion development.

In March, Western Cape High Court deputy judge president Patrica Goliath granted the interim interdict after finding that there had been no “meaningful” consultation for the project with all the affected people. She said the fundamental right to culture and heritage of indigenous groups was under threat because they had not been properly consulted.

A “large-scale urban campus”, which would include the regional headquarters for Amazon, is being developed on the site where the Liesbeek and Black Rivers join.

The site, bought by the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) for R12-million, is part of a broader area known as the Two Rivers Urban Park.

On Friday, the Association and Council said it had served papers against the trustees of the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, provincial and local government and the Western Cape First Nations Collective. They say the developers announced in June that they will resume working on the site.

The matter is set down for Tuesday.

According to the applicants, the area was the dominion of the Gorinhaiqua, and it is the only undeveloped remnant of the grazing lands used in the summer by the Khoekhoe for their cattle. The applicants said the site hosted “significant ceremonies and gatherings” and is a “holder of memory”.

The developers say they have lodged an appeal against Judge Goliath’s ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal, which they believe suspends the interdict.

But in court papers, the applicants argue that the developers’ rationale for disregarding the March interdict is not plausible.

Lawyers for the association and council said, “The section of the Superior Courts Act on which they rely only applies to final orders, not interim interdicts. It expressly states that interim orders are not appealable.” They said this issue had already been ventilated, and rejected by the High Court when the developers applied for leave to appeal.

The applicants now want the court to clarify that the interim interdict and judgment precludes the developers from working on the site. They also want an order preventing them from continuing with work.

In the founding affidavit, Leslie London, chairperson of the association, said that since Judge Goliath’s ruling, they had filed 17 affidavits from representatives of the communities opposed to the development who were never consulted.

In the developer’s subsequent application to the Supreme Court of Appeal, it complained that if it was not able to continue work, it would not be able to complete the development by November. The handover to the tenant is scheduled for 2023 and could “result in the termination of the development agreement and crippling financial liabilities and losses in excess of R386-million”.

London said they were advised by the developers in June that they would continue with work and construction, on the basis that the interdict was suspended by the SCA application.

In a statement on Monday, the developers denied acting unlawfully.

The developers said continuing work would enable 380 workers to return to site and earn an income again.

“The LLPT has had one working day to consider this application. For the reasons that will be set out in its opposing papers, it will be asking the court to dismiss the application,” said the developer.

“The legal advice provided to LLPT is that the judgment and orders by Judge Goliath are final in effect, and hence suspended pending the final determination of LLPT’s application in the SCA,” it said.

“The LLPT categorically denies the accusation that it is in contempt of court as there is no basis for this allegation. It will now be for the Western Cape High Court to decide on the matter.”

© 2022 GroundUp.

This article was first published on GroundUp here.

COMMENTS   11

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Time for the Khoi San to turn violent.

I grew up in the area and never in my 75 years of visiting the Astronomical Observatory, the River Club etc never once saw a Gorinhaiqua sacred ceremony. Even though the developers have accommodated these groups with everything they need in the way of land etc to hold any ceremonies, they continue to protest with the super-woke of the run-down suburb.

All the affected indigenous peoples have approved the development but the woke and opportunists are somehow allowed to derail a hugely commercially important local project? https://theriverclubct.co.za/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Media-release-—-FNC-LLPT-social-compact-1.pdf

Oh,,, I never saw one of the local wokes picking up rubbish or clearing alien vegetation from their “sacred land”. That’s been left to the middle-aged ratepayers.

Of all the available alternatives, why must it be there?

Because it’s land that was available to be built on. If they had used District Six there would have been an outcry. If they used the derelict Wingfield they would say ‘but this could be used for affordable housing’, which is part of the project.

No-one in Cape Town suburbs ever heard of these opportunistic so-called First Peoples until the money emerged to develop.

Cynical? You bet and if you want to read about the local history find the Bleek brother/sister interviews or here: http://lloydbleekcollection.cs.uct.ac.za or Pippa Skotnes’ book Heavens Things. https://www.amazon.com/Heavens-Things-Story-Pippa-Skotnes/dp/1919713417

Not from these characters

Move it to Ballitto on the KZN North Coast . We won’t object just nice to have the development and cash injection . Stop acting so precious CT …..

Turn it into low cost housing . Get poorer people closer to the city . Besides current townships are miles out of town .

It’s a swamp and completely unsuitable for for low-cost housing. A better suggestion would be for the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Mmamoloko Kubayi to finally after five decades, develop the vacant land of the ex-District Six.

Current townships are “miles out of town” because all the available land has been built on for years. Google Map the Peninsula and the Cape Flats.

No, it wasn’t. You can’t play mashie golf in a swamp. It was PUBLIC OPEN SPACE. Valuable public open space. Not private unused swamp.

it amazes me that Amazon continues to be associated. It is not like there aren’t ten other sites within ten mile radius that need tenants.

Somebody with the vision that NYC had to retain Central Park as undeveloped land should step forward. Did any journalists take a good look at the deal to sell the land to the developer?

Yeah … Amazon, with just advertising returns in their last report 10% of SA’s GDP being told to get lost by a bunch of poseurs. I actually think this is motivated more by hatred of the US and US companies by a deluded local sect than anything else.

Low cost housing on a flood plain swamp .. every winter the shanty towns are under water and now they want to add to it?

Where they should be building housing is in the old derelict railway property between Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk Boulevards. It stretches from the City to Woodstock. Most of it seems to be infiltrated by squatters anyway.

End of comments.

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