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Judge halts development at the River Club in Cape Town

The River Club development in Cape Town. File photo.
The River Club development in Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The Liesbeek Leisure Property Trust has been interdicted from carrying out further construction of a development at the River Club in Cape Town pending meaningful engagement with all affected people.

Construction is already under way at the R4.5bn site where online retail giant Amazon was earmarked to be the anchor tenant. Khoi leaders have been at odds over the development with some in favour and others opposing it.

The original wetland that made up the River Club has been gradually reclaimed and consists of a golf course, offices, a conference venue and parking lots.

The site is located in a historic section of the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP) in the vicinity of heritage resources including the SA Astronomical Observatory — a national heritage site — and Valkenberg Hospital.

“This matter ultimately concerns the rights of indigenous peoples,” Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath wrote in a judgment handed down on Friday.

“The fact that the development has substantial economic, infrastructural and public benefits can never override the rights of first nations peoples. First nations people have a deep, sacred linkage to the development site through lineage, oral history, past history and narratives, indigenous knowledge systems, living heritage and collective memory.

“The TRUP site is therefore central to the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the first nations peoples. I am of the view that the fundamental right to culture and heritage of indigenous groups, more particularly the Khoi and San first nations peoples are under threat in the absence of proper consultation, and that the construction of the River Club development should stop immediately, pending compliance with this fundamental requirement.”



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