(This article was published on 5 June 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
When singing superstar Madonna asked Carlton Wilborn to be one of the seven male dancers on her Blonde Ambition tour he had no idea it would be an “evergreen” experience.
That was back in the 1990s when Madonna was seen as leading a revolution, challenging stereotypes and encouraging fans to express themselves.
Los Angeles-based Wilborn’s career as a dancer has expanded to acting in films, TV show presenting, writing an autobiography and working as a life coach.
He was in Cape Town this week for the premiere of a documentary film, Strike A Pose, about the seven Blonde Ambition dancers.
The film has been screened at film festivals worldwide since its launch earlier this year.
Its South African debut this week was at the Encounters documentary film festival running in Cape Town and Johannesburg until June 12.
Strike A Pose is not the first time that Wilborn and the other dancers have been scrutinised by camera lenses though.
Madonna made a documentary film, Truth Or Dare, a provocative behind-the-scenes insight of the Blonde Ambition tour.
Apart from dissecting Madonna’s intense relationship with her dancers and other staff, it also showed the superstar’s friends visiting her backstage.
“I was very clear at the time that Blonde Ambition was going to be a game changer. I worked with this big artist around the world. We traveled on private jets and had two chefs traveling with us,” recalls Wilborn.
“Little did I know it would be an evergreen experience. It has lived on. Twenty-five years later we get to expand that conversation.
“It is very amazing and I owe so much to Blonde Ambition and being chosen for it. After that, when I talk about the calendar of my experience, it’s been a great ride.”
Wilborn has worked on more than one tour though with Madonna. He says while she may have been perceived as a control freak she was the opposite of that.
“That’s not how she is when you work with her. The way that she deals with you is, ‘Give me more of you’,” he says.
“I have worked with Janet (Jackson), Michael (Jackson) and other A-list artists. They don’t give their dancers the liberty to shine hard with them on the stage.
“Madonna created an eight-minute dance piece for me and she wasn’t even on stage. She’s not as controlling as the persona reads.
“She is very specific about what she likes. She is smart and she has a great eye. I was never intimidated by that.”
Strike A Pose is less of a rollercoaster as it is a more reflective film. Wilborn says it “gets to tell the full embodiment of who we are”.
“I am so grateful for this film and the way that it was done. It gives an authentic, rich scope of how powerful the dancers are,” says Wilborn.
“It reaffirms why Madonna wanted us in the first place. These guys lived and worked from a powerful place. I did not give enough credit to how much of a bond I had with them.”
Wilborn says Strike A Pose “speaks to the power of dance”.
“It’s about what dance does to a soul and how it causes one to see something about themselves through that expression,” says Wilborn.
“It is about the emotional component of dance and how it heals people. Witnessing dance when it is done the right way is a shape shifter.”
The American dancer will soon work between Los Angeles and Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where he will soon start working on another TV show.
“My world is full. I’m still largely a performer,” says Wilborn.
“Over the last ten years I’ve made most of my money and bought my house as an actor and doing TV shows. I am also a life coach. I’m published twice.
“I’m never in a creative drought. You could put up your jacket and I would probably have a concept about it.”
Wilborn adds: “God will give you one gift. And if you nurture that one gift it will spin out other opportunities. Dance has been a catalyst that has served me.
“Every time I lean into dancing something magical happens. I’ve gotten to meet incredible people because of my dance.”
Strike A Pose will screened at The Labia on June 10 at 8pm and at Ster Kinekor V&A Waterfront on June 10 at 6:30pm.
(This article was published on 29 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Zonnebloem neighbourhood’s working class residents in Springfield Terrace flats feel threatened, claiming estate agents are pushing a new wave of gentrification on central Cape Town’s doorstep.
An estate agent working in the area has confirmed buyers are interested, with an offer even coming through from a developer who wanted to buy up one of the nine standing blocks.
For some Zonnebloem residents, the current wave of gentrification feels much like apartheid era forced removals from District Six, just up the road from their homes.
Mary Wentzel, who was born in District Six almost 60 years ago, was forcibly removed from the area when she was a child.
Twenty-nine years ago Wentzel bought a flat in Zonnebloem. Now she feels like estate agents and property developers are pressuring them to move and make way for wealthier property owners looking to buy up spaces near the city.
“A few weeks ago an estate phoned and asked if I wanted to sell my house. I said no the rand is not good. And he said he could pay me in dollars,” says Wentzel.
“Estate agents were around here asking people if they want to sell. One agent came to my house and asked if I wanted to sell. I said no. Then he asked me who else he could go to. I said I don’t know.”
Wentzel says it was “mostly foreigners already bought apartments and they rent it out”.
And she is aware of gentrification’s effect in other predominantly working class coloured areas near the city: Bo Kaap, Salt River and lower Woodstock.
“I heard about what happened in Bo Kaap. Rich people are going to buy these houses and then how much will our children have to pay if they want the houses back?” asks Wentzel.
“This area is for our people. District Six was for our people. But people are unemployed and they will jump to sell. They are looking for money. But R1m is not a lot of money.
“I will never go out of here or sell this house. I’m used to living close to town. It will be a huge inconvenience to move. I will stay here until I die.”
Another resident, Berenice Rasdien, says she wants to sell her apartment but will do so only when she finds an alternative ground floor replacement in the area.
“I’ve got arthritis in both my knees and I cannot do the stairs anymore. That’s the only reason I’m selling. But I don’t want to move out of my area. I will only sell if I can buy another place in Springfield Terrace,” she says.
Rasdien’s sale boards went up after an estate agent came to their area. She says since the start of this year four of her neighbour’s sold and moved out.
Rasdien points out that new buyers are predominantly wealthier and white.
“People do sell a lot because buyers are investing in the area. Opposite the road from me a flat was sold. Semi-detached houses have also been sold. It’s all in this year,” she says.
“A German bought a flat and three other properties were also bought by white people. It’s mostly foreigners who are buying and they rent it out.”
Rasdien says quite a few neighbours – including herself – are resisting though to leave the area.
“Agents are coming to us. They are forever here. They are very visible in our area. They shop for properties,” she says.
“I don’t see the reason why people should sell. They should stay in the city. It’s nice. I love my neighbours.
“We can still look out for each other. And we still walk to town and Woodstock.”
Jarette Petzer, branch manager Beyers Realty Group in Woodstock, says there Springfield Terrace interests buyers “because of its close proximity to the city” and “stock is limited”.
Beyers has a property for sale in the area and also handles a R9 000 rental.
“There’s a huge demand for certain parts of Zonnebloem, like the Springfield Terrace and Justice Walk. There is money to be made. Buyers are interested,” says Petzer.
Beyers is selling properties worth millions in focus areas, namely Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory “which is developing faster” than Zonnebloem, says Petzer.
“The moment we get some decent traction we will push harder in that area (Zonnebloem),” he adds.
Petzer believes property price climbs in even lower Woodstock – a traditionally coloured working class part of the city – is impacting along the corridor close to central Cape Town.
“Woodstock is by far getting the most attention now. Prices have pushed up a lot. We have seen a 40% rise in property prices,” says Petzer.
“It is getting a lot of attention because it looks European. It’s near the city and has views of the habour. Up to 80% of buyers are young professionals and predominantly Afrikaners.
“We have also seen a lot of German and Italian interest. They are all looking for a good deal to break into the market.”
Petzer adds: “As the money rolls in and places are painted, the value is lifting.”
He acknowledges the impact this has on locals.
“We are definitely seeing a trend. A byproduct of a successful property market is that rates go up. That has an adverse effect on people on the breadline. We are seeing a more predominant middle class moving into the area.”
Asa Rajap, admin manager at Beyers, believes residents in working class areas should sell their properties to “step up” and settle in the suburbs, further away from the city centre.
“They need to think about making money. You have to move on. You may have to get up at 6am to get to town in the morning. But at least you will live in a nice area,” says Rajap.
She says Springfield Terrace residents have reacted negatively though to the agent’s efforts to seek properties for sale.
“When we sent an agent to door-to-door a lot of the community was unhappy. There were comments about ‘Don’t being the white people in here’,” says Rajap.
“We have a lot of investors interested in the area but the owners don’t want to sell. We can sell their apartment and find them a house in a nice suburb. We are there to get you out of the hole and make your life better.”
For almost three decades Faiq Rabin has owned a two-bedroom flat in one of the nine apartment blocks that comprise Springfield Terrace.
It is within walking distance from central Cape Town, making it prime property for developers seeking to gain ground where housing stock and land is limited.
Rabin was born in District Six from where he was evicted under apartheid’s segregationist law, the Group Areas Act.
Years later when Springfield Terrace apartments were built he could move back to the area he once called home.
“I am from central Cape Town and always wanted to live here. Twenty-three years ago I bought a flat here. This is where we want to be and where we want to die. This is our place,” says Rabin.
“The only thing is that it’s becoming expensive to stay here. Foreigners are buying in our area and our municipal accounts are going up.
“These places were built for the lower income group. Now 20 years down the line it doesn’t work that way. With the high rates, we can’t survive.”
Rabin adds: “You can imagine a low-income person whose expenses became double, how does he manage? I am concerned that our people can’t stay here anymore. It won’t be long before we will be moved out.
“With the Group Areas Act they (apartheid government) chucked us out. With this, people don’t realise what is happening. Where will we stay if we can’t afford to live in our houses? We are locals and we can’t afford to stay here.”
Rabin is chairman of a body corporate that manages two of the Springfield Terrace blocks. He says estate agents have approached various flat owners about selling their properties.
“We are getting notices in our letterboxes all the time asking if we are interested to sell. I’m from here and my roots are here. I was not interested to buy to resell when I came to live here.
“These were starter homes when we bought it. If we sell now, we won’t be able to buy another place near the city. We are also offered very little”
Rabin says news buyers are “people who normally don’t stay here”.
“We bought to stay here because of the community. People who are buying here now are doing it for financial gains,” he says.
“They are renting it out, with the knowledge that this is going to be valuable properties. It has a bad affect on the blocks if an owner doesn’t stay here. They have no interest in the flat,” says Rabin.
“Before we had body corporate meetings and all the owners were present. Now owners are not at meetings and don’t pay their levies on time.
“They are not interested in coming to meetings, painting the block or working with the body corporate.”
Rabin says the area’s demographic is changing and will likely no longer remain a predominantly working class coloured.
“There are some white people coming in here to live. But most white people who buy here don’t stay here. They are just buying as a business venture. The area will be upgraded. We know the government will do that,” says Rabin.
“We also had people who were interested in purchasing a whole block. Most of the units have been sold already in another block.
“One of the owners is a French guy and I manage the unit for him. I collect the rental for him. They really don’t have an interest in living here. It’s a monetary thing. They are investing and one day they plan to sell it for more.”
Rabin says rental at Springfield Terrace for a two-bedroom flat can go up to R10 000.
“Our people don’t realise what is happening to them. People don’t see what’s coming their way. People from outside are buying up our area. And it is already three quarters of the way in our area,” adds Rabin.
“If you go to Woodstock it’s all coffee shops. We can’t afford coffee shops. So for who are they building these coffee shops?
“This is a growing concern. At the end of they day they are moving in the higher income group and the lower income group are being moved out. We invested here but now when we are older we can’t stay here.
“If you look around in our areas, people are buying old buildings and putting parking bays underneath and building up.
“They build without consultation of our people. We are getting nothing out of it when people come in here.”
(This article was published on 29 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
A Nedbank client claims he is owed at least R600 000 after the bank told him it would no longer deduct insurance payments on his account but failed to do so.
Kariem Kagee, who owns two petrol stations in Cape Town, said a bank employee contacted him in early 2010 to say insurance payments on the cash handling of his accounts would no longer be deducted. He needed to get external insurance.
Kagee claims the insurance was not cancelled though and he ended up paying dual insurance from that time until now.
Kagee also says the bank failed to inform follow up on his instruction to cancel the insurance as he had already obtained external insurance.
Nedbank denied any wrongdoing, claiming that Kagee should have cancelled his insurance contract with the bank.
Kagee blames the bank for telling him telephonically that the insurance would be cancelled but then doing following up on that.
“Cash handling is an expensive component of our business because we deal in cash daily. We pay an insurance fee for every R100 we deposit,” said Kagee.
“When I found out in 2011 they were still charging me insurance I went to the bank with my (external insurance) broker. Nedbank then said they would refund me 50% (of the payments already made). This was admitting they were wrong.
“My broker argued that I acted upon their instruction to get my own insurance and they should cover the whole 100%. There was a lot of two-and-fro and nothing came forth.”
Kagee adds: “I approached my attorney who wrote the bank a letter of demand. I had a meeting at the bank. They said I could not write a letter of demand because they were lending me money. They said they could take it away.
“It was like holding a gun to my head. It was like saying, ‘Leave this’. They gave me an overdraft facility and they told me at a meeting they would withdraw that. They forced me to back off.”
Kagee says “up till today they are stull charging me” insurance.
“We had several meetings. They just don’t want to listen,” he said.
Nedbank responded to Weekend Argus queries on this matter, saying the bank “aware of the case and have been trying to reach agreement on the matter for a number of years”.
“In April 2010 Nedbank contacted Mr Kagee and proposed the new product terms. The options presented required either a new contract containing the new terms be signed or the termination of the agreement.
“However, Mr Kagee refused the options mentioned and insisted that the insurance component remain exactly as per the contract he had signed… which meant his insurance cover remained as before.”
Nedbank said Kagee’s “cash deposit fees were therefore not reduced as no new agreement had been signed”.
It said Nedbank “advised that he would remain on the current risk cover offering, as he requested, until further notice”. Deductions continued on a “month-to-month basis… until a new agreement was entered”.
Nedbank said Kagee’s external insurance was also insufficient and “would have placed himself at significant risk of losses from theft”.
“The cover provided under the Nedbank agreement ensured he was protected from such threats,” said the bank.
Kagee is adamant his external insurance was sufficient, as he was advised by the broker, and said he wants a refund from Nedbank for the insurance it has charged him.
But Nedbank refuses to pay back any money since Kagee “has benefited from reduced financial risk as a consequence of a valid insurance contract”.
“It is the bank’s view that Mr Kagee does not have a basis for a refund of insurance premiums,” it said.
“Mr Kagee’s rights to contest any unfair treatment that he perceives in this matter are still available and may be directed at his own discretion to the office of the banking ombud or insurance ombud.”
Kagee said he would consider taking to the bank ombud to get back a full refund of all the money Nedbank had deducted from him for insurance payments.
“Nedbank continued to unlawfully enriched itself,” said Kagee.
(This article was published on 28 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Innovative renewable energy businesses in Atlantis are not only contributing to Cape Town’s green economy but also creating jobs for locals.
Atlantis is just under an hour’s drive from central Cape Town and is usually associated with poverty and accompanying social ills.
When Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille visited the small town yesterday, she met with renewable energy businesses to discuss their role in the energy eco-system.
Thirteen companies, all part of the South African Renewable Energy Business Incubator (Sarebi) in Atlantis, collectively received R500,000 from the City of Cape Town last year.
De Lille said assisting these businesses was part of a plan to ensure that locals could cope with Eskom’s power cuts and also save money by using renewable energy sources.
Instead of paying Eskom for electricity, locals could generate their own power at home via solar panel geysers, for example.
“Atlantis is an area that has faced difficult social and economic challenges, including high unemployment. Our support to this area underscores our commitment to building an opportunity city,” said De Lille.
De Lille said city officials have set up the Atlantis Investment Incentive Scheme back in 2013 to encourage businesses to open up shop and create jobs in the area.
Businesses are offered various incentives, including a reduction in electricity fees, when they open their doors in Atlantis, said De Lille.
De Lille said since 2013, “16 new companies have opened their doors”.
“At the same time it is estimated that more than 1 500 jobs have been retained by pre-existing businesses taking up incentives. There are additionally a number of exciting new investments in the pipeline,” she said.
Sarebi general manager Helmut Hertzog said they started in 2010 and since then have been helping up to 13 renewable energy businesses operate.
The incubator offers businesses space to produce their goods as well as a host of other business services and training.
Hertzog said the city’s R500 000 helped the small businesses improve their manufacturing processes, improve physical structures and fine-tune their operations.
Hertzog said the Sarebi was open to any people who have a renewable energy business idea in the Western Cape and who needed help to take it to the marketplace.
“We offer a three-month workshop where we focus on helping entrepreneurs define and cost a business concept. It can be a service of manufacture business,” he said.
“We help them get the concept sorted. Then there’s a six-month phase after that when the business is defined. It’s a structured series of workshops.
“We then help the businesses find clients and sell their product or service.”
One of Sarebi’s incubator projects, iSolar, has just won a tender to supply solar-powered geysers to the national energy department.
The company’s founder David October said they have already supplied solar-powered geysers to the Cape Winelands District Municipality. It has created jobs for 65 people, half of whom live in Atlantis.
“We will build 500 geysers a month for the department for the next 12 months. The department will install the geysers in various areas in the country,” said October.
“I have also completed geysers that were installed in the city’s Langa housing project. We build and install geysers and our contracts have been worth millions of rands.”
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
After more than an hour of chatting with Darryl Els, the recently appointed director of the Encounters International SA Film Festival, one walks away feeling content that this 18-year-old is in good hands.
Els talks fast. He needs editing. But what he says is backed up with a track record of commitment to particularly independent filmmaking, which Encounters has always championed.
Cue: sigh of relief. Internal dialogue: this guy won’t mess it up.
Els studied film and television at Wits University in Johannesburg, worked with award-winning director Rehad Desai who made Miners Shot Down and then went on to open up the Bioscope independent cinema in Johannesburg.
He started his new job last November, braving Cape storms, terrible drivers (you know especially when it rains it’s hell down here) and added a dash of ADHD to the festival. Like I said, he talks. A LOT. And fast.
“You have to stop me otherwise I’ll just keep talking,” Els says before getting back to his sandwich.
“My history with Encounters goes back ten years when I first attended in 2006 as a student. It was interesting with very intense discussions,” adds Els.
Then in 2010, when he opened the Bioscope with partners, Encounters asked them to host screenings.
“We had just opened. It was such a huge thing for us. We needed to tell people we were on the map. This helped,” says Els.
Els is still involved in the Bioscope but no longer its programming director. His focus in Encounters, which he wants to make more than just a two week gig.
Els wants to run Encounters events all year round. He wants the festival to be more than just screening films and talking about it. Then going home.
“There are different opportunities that you can create. You can create financial and relationship opportunities,” says Els.
To this end, Encounters has partnered with The Guardian newspaper in the UK to create a competition for short filmmakers. Storytellers can pitch an idea, with a cash prize and a possible commission to make a film for the newspaper’s website up for the taking.
Encounters has also for the last few years partnered with Al Jazeera to run pitching sessions for filmmakers who could get a commission to make a film for this Qatar-based news channel. These are tangible outcomes at Encounters.
Els wants audiences to walk away from the festival with “new experiences”.
“The Bioscope was a very creative space to experiment and introduce audiences to films that was never on their radar,” says Els.
“It showed that audiences want what they know but they also want to discover. If you went to the Bioscope you saw things that you never saw. It’s important to have that independent spirit.
“I see Encounters as an expanded view of non-fiction storytelling. The programme has moved beyond the cinema screen.
“This year we have interactive web documentaries, an electronic music band from the UK, a live documentary event that has poetry, live music and spoken word. Documentary films can often fit into any shape and form.”
Con-currently, Encounters wants to remain relevant to filmmakers in Africa. It wants to be a meeting place and a space where the filmmaking business grows.
For a local industry that struggles to find money to make films and with a national broadcaster that mostly fails its storytellers, independent film festivals can be a lifeline.
Actually, it gives filmmakers hope. It is a platform to connect with audiences and your industry.
“I’m always talking to filmmakers about the role that Encounters can play. We have created constructive spaces for conversation at the festival,” says Els.
Among these “frank discussions” will be case studies of African financial models of filmmaking.
Encounters will this year also see international film deal announcements, filmmaking master classes and, according to Els, “time for reflection on where the industry is at”.
“It’s all about the role that a film festival plays in an eco-system. Encounters has been around for 18 years. There’s a wonderful infrastructure to build on,” says Els.
Encounters is a ten-day documentary film festival that runs June 2 to 12 at Cinema Nouveau at the V&A Waterfront as well as The Labia cinema in Gardens.
NOT JUST SCREENINGS
Encounters will have a number of events apart from film screenings. It hosts Virtual Encounters, an exhibition of new forms of documentary storytelling. This will include Virtual Reality, web docs and games. It takes place in the American Corner at the Central Library in Cape Town and is free to attend. It runs from June 2 to 4.
There’s also a merging of audio documentary, electronic music and political statement from British contemporary pop band Dark Star on June 12 at The Assembly in central Cape Town.
Dark Star duo Aiden Whalley and James Young will transpose the central concept of the album, Foam Island, to a South African setting, recording the voices and experiences of young people for two live shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
African Space: The Live Documentary is meanwhile a live documentary storytelling in collaboration on June 8 at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory.
Danish journalist Rasmus Bitsch uses audio recordings, original interviews, live music and poetry to present a stage performance with renowned astronomers and townspeople of the Karoo.
More info on http://www.encounters.co.za
FESTIVAL FILM HIGHLIGHTS
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s ‘Where to Invade Next’ will be screened for the first time in South Africa.
‘The Shadow World’, an international feature documentary on the arms trade based on the former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein’s controversial book.
‘Maya Angelou and Still I Rise’, a heart-breaking portrait of the achingly meaningful story that created one of America’s finest writers.
South African director Nadine Cloete’s poignant debut feature documentary on anti-apartheid student activist Ashley Kriel.
‘Strike A Pose’, a provocative documentary on the off-stage antics of the seven handsome back-up dancers who accompanied pop star Madonna on her Blonde Ambition World Tour in 1990.
‘Requiem for an American Dream’, the last full-length interview by one of the world’s most important intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, who gives a definitive and thought-provoking account of global inequality and how wealth and power has come to rest in the hands of the select few.
‘A Syrian Love Story’, which is a portrait of love against a tumultuous political backdrop. It’s the story of one man, the people he loves and the country that hates him. An intimate family portrait shows all is not fair in love or war.
(This article was published on 22 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Residents in wealthy De Waterkant village are battling to get a property developer’s sympathy, protesting that a proposed building will negatively impact on their lives.
De Waterkant is on the border of central Cape Town, right next to Bo Kaap, and its heritage properties along cobble streets are sought after.
But it also contested space as property developers seeking financial returns are maximising whatever land they find by using it for multi-use complexes, such as Cape Quarter on Somerset Road.
De Waterkant residents Deon Redman and Krisjan Rossouw, who own a property right opposite a proposed Tower Asset Managers (TAM) property on Napier Street, say encroaching developments are making their lives hell.
TAM owns the Cape Quarter building and plans to add more apartments to this building opposite Redman’s semi-detached house.
Redman said they were made aware of the proposed 28-metre high building only when they saw pictures of it.
He said residents who move into the new apartments “will be living my life with me”.
“They will be looking into my house. It’s a total loss of privacy,” said Redman.
The new building would also block any views he may have left from his house.
Apart from building up, TAM confirmed it would also create parking areas underground, meaning excavating under their neighbour’s properties.
“It’s being developed to the absolute maximum,” said Redman.
He said squashing more people into De Waterkant would add to existing congestion as the “streets can’t cope with the traffic”.
“We have shops and offices in the area. The parking underground is already not enough for the people who work here. Now they want to build 57 new apartments,” said Redman.
Gary de Klerk, who has lived in De Waterkant for 24 years, said they were “very concerned about the height, bulk and size of the building”.
“Construction while it is happening will also affect residents,” said De Klerk.
“We are concerned that the area’s heritage is not being respected. The City of Cape Town is letting this go ahead too quickly and smoothly. It’s as if they are just allowing objections but it’s already a done deal.”
Another resident, Francesco Uys Rootenberg who owns various properties in the area, said city officials have shrunk the De Waterkant’s original Heritage Protection Overlay Zone to “exclude areas targeted for development”.
“De Waterkant is one of the last authentic areas of the city that has not been desecrated. It’s a place that attracts people. It’s a heritage and economic asset,” said Uys Rootenberg.
“It has small streets. It can’t have this massive infrastructure around it.”
Uys Rootenberg accused city officials of “applying the rules case-by-case instead of looking at the bigger picture”.
“I don’t think the officials care. I would challenge them on the vision we have for Cape Town to make it more livable. They need to create livable neighbourhoods,” he said.
“People in big apartment blocks don’t know their neighbours. We know our neighbours and we speak to each other in the street.
“They should respect the neighbouhood and put a building there that will fit in with it.”
Councillor Johan van der Merwe, the city’s mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, did not offer a lengthy response to queries and concerns raised.
“Due process is being followed and the matter is yet to appear before council for decision,” he said.
“The application has been advertised for public participation and the closing date for comments was 20 May 2016 (Friday).”
TAM meanwhile said it too was playing by the rulebook. It said the building would be “primarily residential units above the existing mixed-use building already consisting of retail, restaurants and offices and which will have minimal interventions”.
It said a “public meeting was held where stakeholders could express their opinion on the development”.
“This part of De Waterkant is dominated by offices and the addition of residential units will create a friendlier, safer neighbourhood particularity at night time,” it added.
“Tower sees this node as an exciting growth node in the Western Cape and is planning on investing a further R300m on its properties to the benefit of its shareholders and the community.”
(This article was published on 21 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Sea Point residents are opposing a lobby group’s calls for the Western Cape government to turn the defunct Tafelberg school property in the area into affordable housing.
David Polovin, deputy chairman of the Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (SFB), said residents have discussed calls for Tafelberg Remedial School in Sea Point’s main road into housing units.
Polovin told Weekend Argus this week residents viewed Tafelberg as a “powerful engine for change in the neighbourhood”.
“The use to which it finally is put could regenerate, enrich and uplift the area, or conversely set it back significantly,” said Polovin.
“The proposed alternative, that it be used for affordable housing, is neither practicable nor in the interests of the Sea Point community.”
Lobby group Reclaim the City (RTC) has campaigned for Tafelberg to be converted into housing to counter what it calls Cape Town’s “apartheid spatial planning”.
RTC earlier this month won a court battle at the Western Cape High Court against the provincial transport and public works department to stop it from selling Tafelberg for R135-million to the Phyllis Jowel Jewish Day School.
By order of the court, the department had to reopen a public consultation process, which RTC said was lacking during the initial sale period.
The department had promoted via a brochure “four prime opportunities for investors”.
Along with Tafelberg, the other three sites are the Helen Bowden Nurses Home near the Cape Town Stadium, Top Yard near Parliament, and the Alfred Street Complex in Green Point.
Sea Point’s residents plan to also make their voices heard during the current 21-day public consultation process that ends on June 9.
Polovin said residents believed if the provincial government sold Tafelberg it could use “proceeds from the sale for affordable housing or other social upliftment needs” elsewhere.
“We think the property does not meet the criteria for affordable housing. There is much better provincial owned land for affordable housing in Cape Town, such as the old Conradie Hospital site in Pinelands,” he said.
“We are not persuaded that it (affordable housing) serves the interests of Sea Pointers, including residents and workers.”
Polovin said it was also “naive to imagine that government is better at land management than private enterprise”.
“There is little state owned rentals (stock) in Sea Point and the area is not and has never been suitable for affordable housing, which explains why there is little of it,” he added.
“No informed person can believe that Sea Point offers a viable opportunity to spend public money on affordable housing and we’ve heard no proper reason to gainsay that.
“What we’ve heard instead are political imaginings that take no account of town planning considerations, budgetary constraints and the optimal use of thin resources for competing demands.”
Weekend Argus found at least two state-owned properties in Sea Point that are abandoned and fenced up.
The one property is Rocklands Villas, behind the national broadcaster SABC, and the other is Wynyard Mansions behind the Tafelberg property on Sea Point’s main road.
SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said Rocklands Villas is a “building purchased long ago to provide the SABC additional capacity”.
“It is an old building that in its current state is unsuitable for human occupation and has been uninhabited since 1996,” he added.
Siphesihle Dube, spokesman for provincial MEC for minister of transport and public works, Donald Grant, said Wynyard Mansions is part of the Tafelberg sale, although a fence separates it from the school property.
“The land on which Wynyard Mansions is situated was to be sold to the Phyllis Jowel Jewish Day School,” he said.
“This proposed sale has been taken under legal review. This process is currently under way.”