Premier Zille, Premier, Western Cape
Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) is a national South African students organization
dedicated to protecting human rights, preventing discrimination and promoting social justice and the rule of law. Our current active membership comprises 247 law students.As the University of Cape Town Branch we submit our strong opposition of the sale of erf
1675 and 1424 the ‘Tafelberg property’ to the Phyllis Jowell Day school.
The Phyllis Jowell Day school is a private education institution. The tuition fee for a full Grade 6 academic year was R44 326 per learner in 2014. The school intends to use the Tafelberg property as the site for their new school campus.
A tuition of such an amount is indicative of a system of exclusion for working class people whereby they cannot live, nor be educated, within the city, but rather their access to such areas is limited to providing services for the wealthy. We submit that the land would be better suited for the development of affordable housing within the city. This view is driven by the imperative for urban land reform and the promotion of equitable access to land for Black African and Coloured working class people. This imperative is required by the Constitution.
To date the Western Cape government has yet to meet the need of affordable housing for its citizens who work within the City of Cape Town. We understand that it is common cause between opponents and supporters of the sale that the city of Cape Town is facing a housing crisis. We fail then to understand why the Tafelberg property is not being used to alleviate this crisis.
As students of the law we fail to understand why this decision was taken, as it directly
contradicts the City of Cape Town’s Spatial Development Framework. Key strategy 1 (5.1 of
the SDF) provides the plan for employment, and improvement of access to economic
opportunities. Rectification of “Spatial economic imbalances” is a key substrategy
of the framework’s goals, and therefore failure to provide adequate affordable housing in the Tafelberg area would be a critical failure in trying to achieve key aims of the policy. A
feasibility study by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority indicates that the site could
accommodate as many as 341 affordable housing units – this would be an effective step
forward in realizing the aims of the Spatial Development Framework.
We strongly reject the notion that the sale of the land for the Phyllis Jowell Day school will be for the benefit of working class people. It has been suggested that the value of the land lends itself to sale for private development. This, the reasoning goes, will provide the Province with the financial means to develop affordable housing elsewhere. We reject this line of reasoning on two grounds.
First, it is unclear why this supports the notion that affordable housing should be built
anywhere other than where it is needed. The area where the Tafelberg property is situated is serviced by large numbers of domestic workers and gardeners. The majority of these
individuals live away from their centers of employment on the outskirts of the city. This
results in many employees having to expend large portions of their salary on transport. It
makes little sense then that a long term solution to service delivery and economic upliftment entails keeping workclass people away from where they are employed.
The second reason refers to the need to combat spatial inequality and rectify the
apartheid era planning in the city. As students we hold our provincial government under a legal and moral obligation to provide Black African and Coloured citizens the opportunity to live and work within the city centre. To do otherwise can only reinforce the notion that Cape Town is not a city for all those who live in it, but instead an elite few. In many ways the reasoning in support of the sale has lent itself to this view.
As students committed to social justice we are angered by the reaction to the proposed sale
by certain sectors of our community. The notion that the development of affordable housing should be abandoned because it will negatively impact the value of the surrounding area is especially repugnant. As put by Elizabeth Gqoboka, a 47 year
old single mother who works as a domestic worker in the area “Why is it that I downgrade your property if I don’t downgrade your children when you go to work?” It is incumbent on the Province to send a clear message that this notion is not one that finds government sanction.
For the above reasons we implore the Province to cancel the sale of the Tafelberg property to the Phyllis Jowell Day school.
Nicole van Zyl