Future of circus plot unclear

The Observatory Civic Association wants the City to inform them of the plans for the land which used to house the old circus school.

The Observatory Civic Association (OCA) says the City has been vague on its plans for its land at the old circus school, which forms part of the Two Rivers Urban Park precinct.

OCA chairman Tauriq Jenkins said they had battled to get straight answers from the City.

“Now, after two and a half years, they have stated that they are busy with a legal process of evictions, but we have not seen any evidence of this,” he said.

Mr Jenkins said they had invited officials to a town hall talk that no one had attended, and they had sent formal letters seeking details on the eviction process, the City’s plans for the tent, and health and safety concerns.

“We have point blank been refused any information and were told the matter was sub judice,” he said.

Mr Jenkins accused officials of sowing division by corresponding directly with residents and not with the civic.

“Our main concern has always been the human rights aspect of the circus. If an eviction should take place, it must take place fairly and according to the constitution. We are neither for or against the eviction but have concerns about what is happening there,” he said.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the City had served eviction notices on the tenants who should have left by March and were living there illegally. The City had since terminated the lease with the circus, he said.

Dr Badroodien said there were about 24 people still living on the property.

The Tatler previously reported on residents’ calls for the tent to come down because it was a safety hazard (“Circus tent must go, say residents,” Tatler, April 11).

OCA spokesman Edwin Angless said at the time that the City had a duty to remove the tent because it was a public safety risk and it was on municipal land. The OCA and residents vowed to find a way to bring the tent down if the City didn’t.

“There is also a general consensus amongst the OCA and residents that there should be more engagement with the occupants of the circus school,” Mr Angless said.

That included seeking alternative accommodation for them while making sure more people didn’t move in.

Mr Badroodien said the building was previously used as a clubhouse within a sports precinct and while the City was busy finalising legal proceedings, the building was currently reserved for future use by the recreation and parks department

“The land parcel already forms part of the sports precinct and is zoned for sporting purposes. It will be re-purposed in accordance with the sport and recreation needs of the broader community, as well as that of the recreation and parks department,” he said.

Addressing the civic’s claims, Mr Badroodien said the City had contributed to the meeting through written correspondence sent to OCA. As for the time frame, he said: “The ward councillor and I are in consultation and a legal process is under way.”