Use military land for housing

Richard Staniforth, Wynberg

What a pity that the protesters at the Rondebosch Golf Club on Human Rights Day, while prepared to give of their time and energy, didn’t take on a real challenge to provide more housing and, instead, went for the soft target (“Social housing protesters take over golf course,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, March 28).

Housing is, after all, a central government mandate, which is just not being dealt with in the Cape.

A real challenge and, to my mind, a much more worthy and important one, would be to take on the government about the extensive, unutilised land currently known as Youngsfield, Wingfield and Ysterplaat.

These are huge tracts of land which should be put to better use, namely housing.

Not only housing – they are suitable for “agricultural housing” much along the lines of how Philippi works, with people living on the land and growing vegetables.

Cape Town spends many millions each year, combating alien-vegetation encroachment, but these government-owned properties are overgrown with alien plants, sprouting millions upon millions of new seeds each year, rendering the money spent by the council, wasted.

Unfortunately, the Cape Town Council is not taking government or the military to task over this matter the way they do other land owners and occupiers.

Much of the challenge in eliminating alien vegetation is in the follow-up programmes to limit new seed generation.

So, Mr Swartbooi, don’t be “shocked to see how beautiful it is inside”, it didn’t just happen that way.

The beauty of the Rondebosch Golf Course is a constant labour of love by the people who have used the golf course for generations who have made it thus, so why don’t you take on the government and develop these properties into something, not only “beautiful inside” but more viable and useful for the people of Cape Town who need housing?

The current limited use of Ysterplaat as an air-force base can easily be moved to Langebaan, so don’t let the government put you off on that point.

This is something I have felt strongly about for years and have often brought up with the council, but they just don’t have the appetite for it, so, if I can be of any help, I would gladly be involved in any way to convince government to see the scope that, surely, exists, and what a positive way to start the ball rolling with expropriation without compensation.