Cape Town – The Western Cape government’s decision to appeal the Tafelberg judgment has been met with criticism by the national Department of Human Settlements.
In a joint statement, Premier Alan Winde and Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said they would be applying to the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the Western Cape High Court’s setting aside of the DA government’s decision to sell the Tafelberg School site in Sea Point to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
The province and City were also given nine months to show how they would address the legacy of spatial inequality in central Cape Town.
In response to Winde and Madikizela’s statement, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperson, Yonela Diko, said: “The minister has noted the futile attempts by the Western Cape government to appeal the high court judgment on the Tafelberg land and property and sees it as yet another unequivocal message that it rejects its constitutional responsibility to the people as per Section 25 of the Constitution, which obliges it to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.
“The province is clearly also rejecting section 26 of the Constitution which obliges it to take reasonable legislative action to achieve the progressive realisation of the right of citizens to have access to adequate housing,” Diko said.
Winde and Madikizela noted that the decision to sell the land to the school for R135 million was taken in the previous political term by a cabinet different to the current one, stating that the “real aspects of contestation argued before the Western Cape High Court and the judgment’s consequences spanned far beyond this particular site and the purchaser”.
Winde and Madikizela said the court made a range of orders that would fundamentally impact their ability to manage the province.
“The decision to appeal by no means affects our commitment to continue and even ramp-up our efforts to address the spatial inequalities of the past, by providing affordable, well-located housing across our province.
“The difficulty we have is that the judgment does not rest there: the court has made a range of orders that will fundamentally impact our ability to competently manage this province and govern it as an independent sphere of government, as envisaged by the Constitution,” they said.
Housing activist group Reclaim the City (RTC) and law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) spearheaded the initial court case.
In a statement, NU said: “The province’s decision to appeal this progressive ruling is unfortunate.
“It shows the lack of courageous leadership required to use this direction from the court as much-needed leverage to radically break with the past and begin to meaningfully act on advancing urban land and spatial justice.”