Transformation and civil rights NGO Reclaim the City (RTC) will not take local government’s decision, to go ahead with the private sale of the Tafelberg Remedial School site, lying down.
In a meeting held in Sea Point, the local leadership of the organisation met with members to discuss and plan their response to the city’s controversial move.
The organisation has declared that their fight will take place on two fronts.
RTC Chairperson, Sheila Madikane, explained that a picket protest will take place Monday, from 04:30am until 05:00pm, in front of the Tafelberg site with members urged to come in full force. Additionally, she states the battle will spill into the courts as RTC lawyers prepare to explore all legal avenues, including arguments which could test the unconstitutionality of provincial government’s actions.
“As I stand here I am facing eviction, but I don’t care because as long as they are evicting us, they are making us stronger”, says Madikane before a tried and emotional group of supporters. “It is a long walk to reclaiming the city of Cape Town”.
Provincial government took the decision to sell the Tafelberg site to a private entity, the Phyllis Jowell Day school, for 135 million rand despite contestation from RTC who argued the site would provide thousands of people with ease of access to their places of employment within Sea Point and the CBD.
The government has reasoned that other sites will be utilised for the creation of affordable social housing.
The provincial department for Housing and Human Settlement explained after the Tafelberg announcement was made on Wednesday, the focus for social housing within the city and surrounds would fall on the Helen Bowden nurses home in the Somerset Hospital precinct - near the V & A waterfront - and on the old Woodstock Hospital.
Yet, RTC says these statements are “superficial and far from any real commitment”.
According to the organisation, the city will place these locations on the market, in the same way as Tafelberg was, with one difference; a clause that provides for a portion of the land to be utilised for social housing.
“But they are not telling us how many units will be made available”, says Madikane. “For Tafelberg, when a clause was being proposed, they said that 250 units would be made available, but that is not nearly enough”.
The organisation expressed they had become disillusioned in the government since their last demonstration was held in the middle of Long Street to protest the fact that no public participation had been requested or promoted on the matter.
Media spokesperson for the Sea Point chapter of the organisation, Elizabeth Gqoboka explains that the Long Street protest carried on for three days. “A lot of members jeopardised their income to fight for this cause”, she says. “People were protesting, sleeping and even fasting in Long Street...but everything fell on deaf ears”.
Gqoboka urged that all local employers release their employees on Monday to allow them to come and take part on the frontlines.
“If you, as an employer cannot come, please at least release your employee…make Monday a Reclaim the City public holiday”, says Gqoboka.