Activists up in arms after on-off Sea Point school sale gets final go-ahead


Activists up in arms after on-off Sea Point school sale gets final go-ahead

Aphiwe Deklerk | 2017-03-23 07:54:00.0

Tafelberg School

Image by: Masixole Feni/GroundUp

A “robust response” was promised by affordable housing activists on Wednesday after Premier Helen Zille’s cabinet decided to go ahead with the sale of a school site in Sea Point.

Reclaim the City spokesman Daneel Knoetze said the decision on Tafelberg School was “unjust and an insult to black and coloured working class people throughout Cape Town — who are the vast majority of residents in our city”.

The buildings are being sold to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School‚ despite a spirited campaign by Reclaim the City‚ which wanted the site used for affordable housing Knoetze said the Western Cape government had made plain its intention to capitalise on public assets at all costs‚ in the face of considerable public opposition.

“They have shown a deep contempt for the principle of using public land to reverse apartheid spatial planning. We will never accept the stripping of our well-located public land — land that could and should be used for affordable housing — to private entities‚” he said.

Explaining its decision‚ the cabinet said it had identified the Helen Bowden Nurses Home — part of the Somerset Hospital precinct near Cape Town Stadium in Green Point — and the old Woodstock Hospital site for affordable housing development. In a statement‚ spokesman Michael Mpofu said the Green Point property had a high cross-subsidisation potential for the viable building of affordable housing.

“Cabinet further instructed that any proposed disposal or use of the old Woodstock Hospital site be brought to cabinet for its consideration‚ with the intention to resolve that affordable housing be included on the site‚ as a whole or in part.”

Mpofu said the Tafelberg School site fell outside a “restructuring zone”‚ which meant the province would not get grant assistance for social housing from the national human settlements department.

The ANC said it would call for inquiries into the decision by the public protector and the provincial transport and public works committee.

It would also ask the Phyllis Jowell school to pull out of the purchase in the public interest. “We will also engage with the national Minister of Public Works and request him to investigate the possible expropriation of this land‚ should the sale be concluded with a private buyer‚” said spokesman Cameron Dugmore.

The cabinet decision followed a protracted battle between the government and Reclaim the City over the sale of the Sea Point site.

The province sold the site for R135 million‚ which it wanted to use on a provincial government building in Dorp Street. But the sale was halted when Reclaim the City‚ a campaign supported by NGO Ndifuna Ukwazi‚ claimed there had been no proper public participation process. Following a High Court case‚ the province held a new public participation exercise.

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