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Controversial River Club developer granted leave to appeal against interdict ordering it to halt work

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
The controversial River Club development in Cape Town. File photo.
The controversial River Club development in Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The developer of the controversial R4.6bn River Club development in Cape Town has welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) granting it leave to appeal against an interdict prohibiting it from carrying out further work at the site.

Workers returned to the site in June, despite an interdict granted by Western Cape judge Patricia Goliath in March, to perform critical remedial and protective work required to stop the site falling into disrepair, the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) said at the time.

Work on the partially built site was halted earlier this year after a successful court interdict brought by groups opposed to the controversial development, which was slated to accommodate Amazon’s Africa head office.

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,” Goliath wrote in her March judgment.

“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 developer took Goliath's judgment and orders to the SCA.

On Sunday LLPT said in a statement it welcomed the SCA's decision to grant it “leave to appeal against Western Cape deputy judge president Goliath’s judgment and orders handed down on March 18 in the interdict application”.

“The SCA granted leave to appeal to LLPT, the provincial environmental authorities, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape First Nations Collective to appeal the interdict judgment and orders to a full bench of the Western Cape division of the High Court, on an urgent basis.”

LLPT believes the SCA decision is a “major win for all Capetonians who stand to benefit from the R4.6bn development including the construction workers currently working on the site”.

“The benefits include 6,000 direct and 19 000 indirect jobs and the Cape Peninsula Khoi memorialising their cultural heritage associated with the area, including the establishment of a heritage, cultural and media centre.

“LLPT was advised by its legal counsel that the judgment and orders of Goliath DJP were final in effect, and hence automatically suspended once an application for leave to appeal was filed in the SCA.

“That suspension remains effective, now that leave to appeal has been granted by the SCA.”

LLPT said its work will continue on the development, it will deliver its appeal shortly, and await a court date for a hearing.


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