City takes leaders to court

Montrose Park land being prepared for the building of breaking new ground (BNG) houses.

A group of Mitchell’s Plain and Mandalay community leaders have applied for legal aid to help fight an interdict brought against them by the City of Cape Town.

The municipality filed an interdict at the Cape High Court on Monday August 24 to ensure that the R95 million Beacon Valley Housing Project in Mitchell’s Plain, expected to provide 1 809 breaking new ground (BNG) housing opportunities to qualifying Mitchell’s Plain beneficiaries, was not tampered with.

It is also an attempt to prevent further vandalism and damage to property of the contractors and intimidation of the security personnel at the three housing sites – two at The Farm and another in Beacon Valley.

However, Beaulah Mafereka, from Mandalay and Montclaire Business Forum, said the City had no need to take legal action against them.

She said as community structures they felt the need to engage with the main contractor whom she accused of playing delaying tactics. 

“We never intimidated anyone nor vandalised anything. We just wanted to be heard, that is it,” she said.

Ms Mafereka said the contractor should hold the security on site responsible for whatever was vandalised. 

“We have the right to benefit from that project. Must people always close sites in order for them to be recognised?” she asked.

Siyabulela Mbalo, chairman of the Watergate, Mandalay, Montclair Development Forum, said they want a working relationship with the City and to ensure black economic empowerment.

He said residents and businesses of Ward 116 (parts of Beacon Valley; Mitchell’s Plain central business district; Bongani, the Denel Site; Ikwezi Park; and Montrose Park, The Farm and Beacon Valley) had not been consulted about the housing project.

“We do not want to stop anything. We just want the City to engage with us. If the work stops then that prevents us from benefiting from the project,” he said.

Mr Mbalo said they did not have money to pay lawyers and that they have companies who meet the necessary criteria to work at the housing projects.“We never received any notices and information that this housing project was happening in our area,” he said.

He confirmed that the more than 10 names listed as respondents in the court papers were representatives of groups and leaders of umbrella bodies.

Project steering committee member, Duwayne Jacobs, from Beacon Valley, said the lawsuit was to prevent them from “peacefully protesting”.

“We as the leadership from various structures, including the community, only go out and protest peacefully, which we have done with many other projects and never was there any threats or violence used by us,” he said.

Mr Jacobs added: “We don’t believe violence is an answer and that the word is mightier than the sword so let’s keep it peaceful.”

He said if there was any proof that members were involved in violence, threats and intimidation then they should be arrested. “Our disappointment came when we saw the work started without community participation.Security was brought in from outside yet we have so many legitimate registered companies in Mitchell’s Plain. The people doing the fencing were from outside; The main contractors come in our community like thieves, they do the work, take the millions and leave,” he said.

Mr Jacobs also asked where the 40% local contractor opportunities were and the equity that they leave behind.

He said the court instructed the City to sit down with the leaders, who are important partners in the project.

He said the City disregarded the project steering committee by not answering the questions and showing proof that all contractors or subcontractors were on the sub-council database. “If this is not corrected I will continue to protest peacefully with all my supporters and structures. Even if I must get arrested. Nothing about us without us. We shall not be moved – we shall not be fooled,” he said.

A petrol bomb was thrown just after midnight on Friday July 31 at the Swartklip Road construction site, one of the sites that make up the Beacon Valley Housing Project, and heavy-duty machinery were destroyed. Several hours after the attack on the digger, there was a protest by about 100 people at the project’s Highlands Drive site in Montrose Park, about 1km away from the Swartklip Road site.

A man, who did not want to be named, said one of the sites at The Farm was closed yesterday, Tuesday September 15, as workers were intimidated by gangsters.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the City had acted to protect its land and projects against vandalism, damage and unlawful occupation where required. “We stand up for our communities and beneficiaries and want to deliver services and facilities that are to their benefit. We cannot afford to lose our projects,” he said.

Mr Booi said the stopping of the contractors to proceed with their contractual obligation will have negative financial implications for the City. “The City must be permitted to render services as legally mandated for the benefit of the public at large,” he said.

All parties are due back in court on Monday October 12.