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Liesbeek Action Campaign demonstration ahead of court hearing over River Club development

Liesbeek Action Campaign will be holding demonstrations before a Western Cape High Court hearing on Wednesday in a bid to stop the development in the Liesbeek River corridor. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Liesbeek Action Campaign will be holding demonstrations before a Western Cape High Court hearing on Wednesday in a bid to stop the development in the Liesbeek River corridor. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Published Jan 18, 2022

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Cape Town - The Liesbeek Action Campaign (LAC) is this week hosting a string of demonstrations including an interfaith service and a picket outside the River Club, ahead of their Western Cape High Court hearing on Wednesday.

The campaign has made several attempts to stop the R4.6 billion River Club development project by the Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust, the latest being an interdict at the Western Cape High Court calling for the development, which has already started, to stop.

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The interdict was filed by the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) and the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC).

GKKITC high commissioner, Tauriq Jenkins said: “It’s important for us to maintain that sense of conscious and embodied visibility leading up to the court case.

“There is this very painful reality of this concrete being laid permanently on what is sacred ground and what should be a heritage site for all South Africans that speaks to our collective memory of liberation and existence.

“Even though the case is being heard on Wednesday, there is destruction happening every minute.

“We cannot sit back, we want this development to stop immediately. The courts will decide on the egregious assault on heritage that is happening as we speak.”

OCA chairperson Leslie London said they hope that the court will bring an end to the ongoing construction.

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“Essentially what we are asking is that they should stop the construction so that it can’t go any further until proper assessments have been made and ultimately the courts have the power to order that the development is returned to the state it was when we first lodged our papers,” London said.

The interdict was filed in the Western Cape High Court in August last year and subsequently a hearing was set down for November 24, last year, however, the presiding officer, Judge Patricia Goliath, fell ill, which led to the hearing being set for January 19, 2022.

The LAC is also calling for a review of the decisions taken by multiple parties to develop the site featuring the Two Rivers Urban Park, which according to the LAC is an environmentally sensitive floodplain that holds historical significance for the heritage of indigenous communities and therefore is a collective South African heritage.

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The LLPT will be opposing the application citing the economic potential of the development.

LLPT spokesperson Jody Aufrichtig said: “The planned mixed-use development will be a significant boost to the economy and people of Cape Town in the aftermath of the national Covid-19 lockdown.

“It will create over 6 000 direct jobs, including 5 239 jobs during the construction phase. The project will also create more than 13 000 indirect and induced jobs.

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“Further employment will be created by the tenants that will occupy the offices, residential and retail spaces that will form part of the development,” Aufrichtig said.

LAC will continue their demonstration today with an interfaith gathering at the St George’s Cathedral where they will be engaging in both traditional and spiritual calls to the protection of the river.

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