Reasons for Tafelberg school property sale 'illegitimate' - human settlements

Cape Town – The Western Cape government’s reasons for not turning the Tafelberg school property into affordable housing are "illegitimate", the human settlements department has said.

"We have received an application to demarcate the land. We don’t know why they [the Western Cape government] didn't wait for our process to be completed," spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said on Wednesday.

The provincial government last week argued that it was financially unfeasible to develop the Tafelberg school, in Sea Point, into affordable housing as it fell outside the current restructuring zone. A restructuring zone is a demarcated area where a national subsidy can be used to build social housing.

According to the Social Housing Act of 2008, the national human settlements minister designates a restructuring zone following identification by a municipality.

The City of Cape Town on Tuesday announced that it had written to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to declare the entire city a restructuring zone.

Mabaya confirmed they received the letter from Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

"We support the city’s plan to overcome apartheid [spatial] planning. The request will be investigated by the department and the minister," he said.

Calls to expropriate private land

Mabaya however criticised the city and provincial government’s dependence on a state subsidy.

"If their priority was poor people, they would prioritise their budget for development of affordable housing," he said.

Activists from Reclaim the City on Monday called on authorities to expropriate private land which people were already living on, such as the Marikana informal settlement.

Mabaya said various government agencies had buildings in the city that could be converted into affordable housing.

Reclaim the City said it was prepared to challenge the sale of the Tafelberg school property in the Constitutional Court.

Several of their members had been occupying the Woodstock Hospital and Helen Bowden Nurses’ Home since Saturday in reaction to the province’s announcement that it would sell the Tafelberg property to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135m.

Western Cape public works department spokesperson Siphesihle Dube referred all enquiries to Western Cape premier Helen Zille's spokesperson, Michael Mpofu.

Mpofu could not be immediately reached for comment.