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Move to evict land invaders

The owners of Schulphoek brought an application for an eviction order against illegal land invaders in the Western Cape High Court earlier this week.

The application, launched by Rabcav and Cape Theme Park, lists illegal land invaders, Overstrand Municipality, the Hermanus Police Station commander, the Minister of Police and the MEC for Human Settlements as co-respondents.

More than 1 000 people from Zwelihle attended the Cape High Court in the city, where they sang struggle songs in support of those that have settled on Schulphoek.

Land Party leader Gcobani Ndzongana says his political party sees the court case in a positive light. “This is an opportunity we have been waiting for, it will give us the chance to expose the manner in which the land was sold,” he said.

Overstrand Municipality sold Schulphoek to Rabcav in 2010 for R5,3 million. The deal also stipulated that Rabcav’s development rights to three land parcels in Hermanus revert to Overstrand Municipality.

Ndzongana added he is very positive about the outcome of the court processes.

He said: “Once we have proved that they (Overstrand Municipality) had sold the land wrongfully, the owners won’t get a cent in restitution and none of the taxpayers’ money will be wasted.”

Les Arlow of Cape Metropolitan Investments, which bought the land from Rabcav, says the alleged illegal sale of the land to Rabcav had no bearing on him.

His company bought the Schulphoek land in October 2016, but hasn’t yet taken transfer of the land due to a reported agreement with Overstrand Municipality, that it first realign an entry road before the title deed is transferred.

Arlow said he is livid over the fact that “nothing was done” to protect his land against illegal land invaders. He believes statements made that the land would be bought back or expropriated are irresponsible, and are what led to the invasion of his property.

He insists on his land being given back, unless provincial government is willing to pay a fair market price.

“We are saying government must assist us in getting the people off the land, or buy it back at a fair market price,”Arlow said. “The provincial government wants to pay me far less than I paid Rabcav for it. If it expropriates the land without compensation it would be tantamount to stealing.”

Arlow says he is still willing to adhere to his agreement to donate 12,9 ha of the Schulphoek land to Overstrand Municipality for developing an indoor sport centre.

The eviction order application is set to be heard on 18 June.

“We will then argue why the eviction order should not be granted,” said Ayanda Mdanjelwa of PA Mdanjelwa Attorneys, who will appear for the defence. “The parties agreed to a timeline,” he said.

“One of the points agreed on is that the municipality will hand in a report on 1 April. This will state whether the municipality has alternative accommodation should the people be evicted and relocated. But if the municipality can prove the people are not destitute, it will be under no obligation to provide alternative accommodation. If necessary, the other parties can submit arguments on 11 April.”

Hermanus Times reported before that the provincial government intended expropriating Schulphoek with compensation (“Schulphoek to be expropriated”, 13 December 2019).

But the department has since revealed the land will not be expropriated.

“The matter of Schulphoek is the subject of ongoing consultation and negotiation among the Western Cape government, the municipality, Cavcor and Cape Metropolitan,” a spokesperson for the Department of Human Settlements said. “Given the sensitivity of the negotiations, coupled with the fact that we await legal advice on certain aspects pertaining to the matter, we are not at this stage able to answer questions in detail. Suffice to confirm, the province has been advised that it does not have the power to expropriate the land, and it has made two offers to purchase the land, which were rejected. However, as already mentioned, negotiations are ongoing, and an announcement will be made as soon as there is clarity on the way forward.”

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