Activists ‘occupy’ golf course

Residents at a public meeting held by Reclaim The City in Salt River.

Activists occupied the Rondebosch Golf Course again on Saturday, saying a new lease with the City will stop the land being used to house the poor and working class.

The public have until Monday March 9 to comment on the City’s plan to renew the lease of the public land to the Rondebosch Golf Club at R1 058 a year for a decade.

So far the City has received 680 public comments.

The more than 300 activists, including members of Reclaim The City (RTC), accused the City of failing to free up public land for affordable housing for the poor and working class.

There was a similar protest on the golf course on Human Rights Day last year.

That protest was triggered by a research report by Ndifuna Ukwazi, which, according to the civil rights group, showed the City was disposing of well-located public land by leasing it to private groups.

RTC’S Karen Hendricks said that by renewing the leases the City was subsidising a wealthy few at the expense of poor and working-class families.

“This is public land, that should be used to address our city’s apartheid legacy,” she said.

The 45 99 hectare site is roughly the size of 45 rugby fields or a small suburb. Ms Hendricks said that meant the golf club was paying R88.17 a month or R1.92 per hectare per month while poor and working-class people paid thousands for a backyard shack on the outskirts of the city.

“How is it that an exclusionary sports club is paying less per year than someone living in Khayelitsha can spend in one month just on travel commuting to the inner city for work?”

The prime land was perfect for the development of affordable housing, she said. Yet the City planned to lease the land to a golf club for the exclusive use of its wealthy members, members that could afford to pay membership fees of R17 000 a year.

“What makes this lease particularly distasteful in the face of an affordable housing crisis, is that the golf course borders two other golf courses.”

City of Cape Town spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said the City was reviewing tariffs for sporting precincts and had proposed monthly tariffs in future, subject to certain conditions:

BLOB A club providing annual audited financial statements and copies of commercial sub-lease agreements.

BLOB Any commercial activity, excluding the pro-shop, functions/events, tea room/ restaurant and bar would be subject to a rental review.

BLOB Rental would exclude rates and utilities.

The new tariff scheme proposed for 2020/2021 would go to the various portfolio committees, the mayor and mayoral committee for consideration and recommendation to council, he said.

Just last week, people from all over the city met at the Blackpool Hall in Salt River to write objections to the lease.

Lara Young, of Observatory, said the lease meant many would continue to be locked out of new opportunities.

“Pinelands houses have verges that are bigger than most shack stands. I believe it really is time to reconsider our social justice priorities in this city.

“The City must prioritise housing in its budget and make sure it gets spent.

“Decent, affordable housing is a human right; the dignity of having an enclosed bathroom space, a home, a step into the property market in well located green spaces, is essential for restorative and transformative justice.

“The Rondebosch Golf course is perfect land for this, as someone at the protest pointed out, it’s green, it’s ready, it’s well located and it’s basically empty most of the time. As a City, we can and we should be doing this.”

Dr Zahid Badroodien mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the recreation and parks department was assessing all golf courses on public land.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the City was looking at what municipal land – including properties in urban centres – could be used for affordable housing.

“This is an issue that the rest of the country is grappling with too. Partnerships in all sectors will be key,” he said.