Protest stops sale of Cape land

THE auction of a Cape Town landmark was postponed after a protest by 500 residents was broken up by police with rubber bullets and stun grenades.

THE auction of a Cape Town landmark was postponed after a protest by 500 residents was broken up by police with rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Angry residents, who live in an informal settlement around the 321m mountain known as The Sentinel in the Cape Town suburb of Hout Bay threw rocks at the hotel where the auction was being held.

The Times newspaper reported that police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd, amid fears the poor community might be booted off the land. The mountain is privately owned, but the name of the current owner has not been disclosed.

"There are a lot of Rastafarians in the community who go up the mountain. We are afraid that the owners will chase people out of here," the paper cited resident Philip Frans as saying.

Media reports have suggested that potential buyers could include US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey or South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner in a deal expected to be worth millions.

Julius Buchinsky group auctioneer Shlomo Bitton said to develop the mountain had limited opportunities. He said a private person would probably buy the mountain. The current owner is a private person.

"The owners want to sell. Somebody with a big ego will buy," he said. - AFP

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