'Put us back in the picture'
It's the land sale of the decade - a 46ha chunk of coastal real estate just outside the coastal holiday town of Hermanus, potentially worth hundreds of millions of rands. The only trouble is that the neighbours - all 30000 of them - want in on the deal.Not only do the residents of Zwelihle township claim the land, known as Schulphoek, as their own, they say it is their only access to the sea.Now a new dispute has flared up over an aerial photograph used to market the land, which appears to have been taken 18 years ago. The glossy photograph was part of a media package sent out this week."It's false advertising," fumed Zwelihle Community Trust spokesman Bobby von During. He confirmed that a community land claim had been made over Schulphoek."The picture shows the clear land where services were being put in for residents of Zwelihle. But they only started building houses there in 1998. It looks totally different now."The sale of the Schulphoek site - one of the last undeveloped sites along the Western Cape "Riviera" between Hermanus and Hawston - is the latest twist in a dispute dating back several years.Although the owners received development approval from the Western Cape government, their plans for the 244-home development have been tied up by bureaucratic delays.In the meantime, the people of the adjacent Zwelihle community have grown sceptical about the potential benefits of another gated community on their doorstep."How are we going to get to the sea now if they close that whole area?" asked Zwelihle Community Development Trust chairman Thami Poni. "They are supposed to come to us to discuss these things."But the company's sales representative, Aubrey Miller, said the proposed development would lead to many jobs being created and massive investment in the economically depressed area.Miller said "244 plots would need to be serviced and 244 homes would be built - how much employment is that going to create?"He denied that there was an "ulterior motive" behind the use of an old photograph."That was the picture I was sent by the owners. They had it on file. They had hired a helicopter. It would be silly for me to hire a helicopter," Miller said.The property is co-owned by Cavcor and Cape Theme Parks.Miller denied that there was controversy about the community's access to the sea: "That whole coastline is not really swimmable. I would not allow my children to swim there."If any commitments were made on the original purchase of land the owners will honour those commitments," Miller said.