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Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Katharine Child’s article refers ("Amazon office developers denied leave to appeal against construction halt”, May 5).

In March, judge Patricia Goliath of the Western Cape High Court gave several groups of objectors leave to appeal against the decision (made by the Western Cape government and City of Cape Town) to give the green light to a development at the River Club in Observatory. In doing so Goliath stated, inter alia, that “the fact that the development has substantial economic, infrastructural and public benefits can never override the fundamental rights of indigenous people’’.  

This has caused a huge brouhaha for a multitude of reasons. The development has the active support of a substantial segment of the Khoisan community, which seriously undermines the argument that the site issacred’’ in the eyes of the Khoisan community. It has operated as a golf course cum conference centre for several decades, which has a similar effect on the argument that allowing the development to proceed will be a huge blow to the Khoisan people.

It is clear that the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Council has dug its heels in (it is vehemently opposed to the development) and that it is therefore extremely unlikely that additional consultation will have the desired effect. The court has given no indication as to what would constituteadequate consultation”, which is bad news for all property owners. Presumably the developer is expected to keep consulting until the cows come home?

The court, which made it abundantly clear that it is not critical of the development per se, has not explained how the objectors will compensate the River Club for its losses, which are likely to be huge, if our courts subsequently decide that the appeal was frivolous.

Under the circumstances, one feels the court has attached far too much weight to the indigenous communitys so-calledfundamental” right to be consulted, and given far too little to the need to create jobs and provide the Western Cape with a huge, R4.6bn financial boost.

Terence Grant 
Cape Town

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