Land activists march through Sea Point ahead of landmark court case

City wants to sell the Tafelberg property to a private school developer, but Reclaim the City want it for affordable housing

22 November 2019 - 10:47 By Madison Yauger
About 200 Reclaim the City protesters marched from the Sea Point pavilion to the Tafelberg site on Thursday evening, slowing Sea Point's Main Road road traffic to a crawl. A group of #UniteBehind supporters carrying black flags also joined the march.
About 200 Reclaim the City protesters marched from the Sea Point pavilion to the Tafelberg site on Thursday evening, slowing Sea Point's Main Road road traffic to a crawl. A group of #UniteBehind supporters carrying black flags also joined the march.
Image: GroundUp/Ashraf Hendricks

Reclaim the City (RTC) rallied close to 200 people to march together through Sea Point, Cape Town, on Thursday evening to create awareness about the upcoming Tafelberg site court matter next week.

Tafelberg is a disused property in Sea Point owned by the city.

RTC has been advocating for affordable housing on the site since 2015, when the city tried to sell the property to a company that intended to develop a private school there. Extensive campaigning temporarily stopped the sale, but the city decided to proceed with the sale in 2017.

RTC and the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre initiated a court case in 2017, asking the city to address “spatial apartheid” and to overturn the designation of the Tafelberg property as “surplus”. The matter will be heard next week, more than two years later.

Marchers walked from the Sea Point pavilion to Checkers on Main Road and up the road to the Tafelberg site, where they unveiled a banner that read: “Social housing coming soon”.

The march ended at the Sea Point Methodist Church, where people flooded into pews while music sounded throughout the sanctuary.

Zaida Wolhuter lives in the illegally occupied disused Woodstock Hospital. After she was evicted two years ago, Wolhuter moved into the hospital with her twins. Activists call the hospital Cissie Gool House, named after a famous 20th century Cape Town civil rights activists.

Wolhuter wants RTC to win next week’s case.

“I would be happy because so many people need a place to stay. I’m going to fight alongside my occupiers. We want housing.”

Addressing the protesters in the late evening, Mandisa Shandu, a lawyer working on the case, described how colonialism and apartheid created segregated communities in the Western Cape.

“A landless class was created on the premise of exclusion,” she said.

She said Tafelberg could be a “flagship project for integration”.

“We are here to remind the comrades that this is our home and this is our land,” said Reclaim the City activist Sheila Madikane. She said they have been fighting for this land since the 1980s and that now is the opportunity to live here. “We belong in the inner-city,” she said.
“We are here to remind the comrades that this is our home and this is our land,” said Reclaim the City activist Sheila Madikane. She said they have been fighting for this land since the 1980s and that now is the opportunity to live here. “We belong in the inner-city,” she said.
Image: GroundUp/Ashraf Hendricks

Following Shandu’s speech, RTC put on a skit highlighting the court case, and played a short video explaining the history of the Tafelberg site. A sign-up sheet was passed around for supporters to indicate which days they were available to attend court.

Chulumanco (surname not given) is 19 and she attends Camps Bay High School. She told the protesters how evictions affect a family from a child’s perspective.

She described living with her mother and grandmother in a back room in Sea Point until they were evicted when her grandmother got cancer. They lived through several more evictions, which she said took a toll.

“I’m glad to be a part of this movement,” Chulumanco said.

RTC spokesperson Zachariah Mashele told GroundUp: “Today we demonstrated power. We disrupted the busy main road of Sea Point to highlight and remind residents of Sea Point about the unlawful sale of Tafelberg. This piece of land was earmarked for social housing but the provincial government sold it. We are ready to ask the high court on Monday to undo this unlawful sale.”

The Tafelberg matter is set down for November 25-28 at the Western Cape high court.

This article was first published by GroundUp


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