Cape Town – Around 200 Reclaim the City activists took over Rondebosch Golf Course on Thursday to protest the City of Cape Town’s failure to redistribute public land for affordable housing.
At issue is the fact that "Rondebosch Golf Course uses about 45 full-sized soccer fields and only pays R1 000 rent a year. That’s unfair, it could be used to build 2 500 new homes", Reclaim the City tweeted.
"At least 1 500 could be affordable for households on low incomes. We are calling on Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, who is the real power in charge of the City’s finances and land, to come to Rondebosch Golf Course before 1 pm and account for why Council is failing to meet its obligations and what he will do."
Neilson has previously commented about releasing City-owned land, including golf courses, for affordable housing.
Nick Budlender, one of the Ndifuna Ukwazi researchers who produced a report, "Cape Town’s failure to redistribute land", said it was typical of land across the city that was used in an "inefficient, exclusive and unsustainable manner".
Reclaim the City spokesperson Zacharia Mashele told TimesLive activists got into Rondebosch Golf Club "through the back gate" after the main gate was closed as they approached.
"We are here at the clubhouse explaining to golfers why this land should be released," said Mashele. "There are more than 200 of us here, with flags, placards and banners."
Mashele said Metro Police officers were monitoring the protest, which was proceeding peacefully.
Reclaim the City’s full statement said: "As we commemorate Human Rights Day, we remember how our parents and grandparents struggle against discrimination and an oppressive racist regime. They knew that there could be no justice and equality without the return of the land.
"Our Constitution was adopted to guarantee poor and working-class people the right to decent housing and equitable access to land.
"But two decades later our best land is still captured by a few wealthy people while the majority of black and coloured residents continue to live on the outskirt of the city, far from good infrastructure, services and job opportunities.
"Rondebosch Golf Course is as big as 45 soccer fields and could house thousands of families. Instead, it has been leased to a private club for R1 000 a year, where membership costs R15 750 a year.
"National Government has failed to redistribute land. The Provincial Government has failed to redistribute land. And the City of Cape Town has failed to redistribute land. There are empty fields, golf courses, bowling greens and parking lots across well-located areas.
"We are calling on Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, who is the real power in charge of the City’s finances and land, to come to Rondebosch Golf Course before 1pm and account for why Council is failing meet its obligations and what he will do.
"We demand: Today, the City of Cape Town must commit to end the lease of Rondebosch Golf Course and all our well-located public land. This must be redistributed for affordable housing for poor and working class people.
"If the City of Cape Town refuses to meet its obligations, then the Province or National Government must expropriate the land for affordable housing."