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Wednesday May 18, 2016

Cape property rezoning to be probed

The Public Protector's Office has renewed its investigation into the City and the province's alleged illegal practices related to development of part of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA).

The probe comes after the City and the province had forged ahead with plans to develop part of the PHA despite the national government refusing to grant consent.

PHA Food and Farming Campaign spokesperson Nazeer Sonday said a formal complaint had been lodged with the public protector in May 2014, but the matter had received little attention.

"The probe was swept under the carpet until yesterday, when the Public Protector's Office sent us an e-mail inviting us to a meeting next week to discuss the investigation," Sonday said.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said she had assessed the matter in 2014, accepted jurisdiction and decided to probe.

"The file is at her Western Cape office and the matter is still under investigation," he said.

Several civic and ratepayer associations have written to mayor Patricia de Lille to object to the development and the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance also joined the call to halt the project.

Civic associations, including from Kenwyn, Lotus River, Grassy Park, Observatory and Ottery, said Oakland City perpetuated apartheid-style development on the Cape Flats.

The associations said despite years of opposition, the City seemed "intent on changing the landscape in our backyard" and that of the larger region known to feed thousands.

Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning Johan van der Merwe tried to clarify the matter after the PHA Food and Farming Campaign had unearthed the national Department of Agriculture's letter of refusal.

"Although urban development is permitted on this particular piece of land, it does not automatically permit any urban development to occur.

"Hence, detailed applications by Oaklands for the rezoning and subdivision, among others, have commenced for this site and are subject to authorisation," Van der Merwe said.

Cape Times

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