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Monday Nov 21, 2016

Contested Sea Point school site awaits public input

The future of the contentious multimillion-rand Tafelberg site in Sea Point has been opened to the public for input.

This follows several months of robust campaigning by lobby groups for the provincial government to consider using the land for affordable housing.

The grounds of the old Tafelberg School in Sea Point.

The R135 million sale of the property to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School was stopped by the Western Cape High Court in May after social justice movements Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi petitioned the court to halt the sale.
The court ruled that a public participation process be carried out.

The provincial Department of Transport and Public Works yesterday published a call for public comment, inviting interested parties to have their say on the financial model "prior to any consideration thereof by cabinet".

Ndifuna Ukwazi director Jared Rossouw said the financial model had brought the provincial authorities "to the brink of an unprecedented decision: to begin dismantling apartheid spatial design in Cape Town".

"It looks like a substantial commitment towards building the first new affordable housing in the inner city since the end of apartheid. (This) would be a victory for black African and coloured working class people across Cape Town."

He said the financial model envisioned a mixeduse development on the site, including affordable housing which would be cross- subsidised by on-site, commercial retail outlets.

Rossouw said 270 social housing units, for low- income households earning between R1500 and R7500, were envisioned in the model with the existing school building retained as an educational institution.

Earlier this week, a small group of protesters - demanding the immediate release of the financial model - staged a two-hour sit-in at two entrances of the office of the Department of Public Works. Ndifuna Ukwazi's Emile Engel accused the authorities of wanting to publish the financial model in December "when everyone is on holiday".

Sea Point resident Elizabeth Gqoboka, who has been staying in the area for more than two decades, was also present at the protest.

"It's shameful to be a domestic worker in Sea Point. We are like squatters. I'm sick and tired of living like a dog in the backyard, with rats and cockroaches. We want our own places with our families. We deserve affordable housing and we are here to stay."

She added: "We can't afford those luxury apartments (in Sea Point) so we want a place like Tafelberg to call home. We don't want to be thrown to the outskirts of places like Wolwerivier and Blikkiesdorp and all those places."

Ndifuna Ukwazi said it anticipated the financial model would face objections and dissent from "powerful interests in Cape Town - most notably from private developers who have profit- driven agendas for our public land and many wealthy residents who do not want to live alongside poor, black people".

Interested parties have been urged to download the financial model from the provincial transport department's website or visit their offices in Dorp Street for a copy.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)


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