South Africa 20.3.2015 07:08 pm

Plastic View application struck off roll

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

A Johannesburg property developer’s bid to stop the Plastic View informal settlement in the east of Pretoria from being auctioned next week was struck from the urgent roll in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

Judge Sulet Potterill ruled an application by Rakohe Investments was not urgent and that the company had not shown it would suffer irreparable harm if the auction continued. A separate urgent application by the Plastic View community, supported by Lawyers for Human Rights, to stop the city from selling 74 properties on auction in Hyde Park will proceed in the high court on Monday. The auction is scheduled for Tuesday.

Rakohe was in 2012 awarded a tender for a R160 billion development on the land, near the Boulevards shopping centre in Moreleta Park. The City of Tshwane later cancelled the tender. Rakohe obtained a court order in October last year, setting aside the cancellation and forcing the city to restart negotiations with Rakohe, in order to conclude a mutually acceptable development agreement.

The city’s application to have the order set aside is currently pending, resulting in the October court order being suspended. Potterill said Rakohe had sufficient redress in a claim for damages if the tender was invalidly set aside. If it still wanted to proceed with the development without the city’s help, it could go and bid on the property next week, she said.

Rakohe and Plastic View’s residents launched urgent proceedings after reading in a newspaper that the Tshwane municipality was planning to sell several municipal properties, including Plastic View, on auction. Litigation about the settlement, also known as Woodlane Village, dates back to 2006 when the police burnt down residents’ shacks. Residents obtained a court forcing the city to rebuild their shacks and make an alternative plan for them.

The residents, many of them foreigners, won a reprieve when the court ordered the city to establish a township on Woodlane Village and adjacent land by November 2013, or bring an application for the eviction of all of them. Local ratepayers’ associations thereafter obtained several contempt orders against the city.

The appeal court eventually exacted an undertaking from the battling parties that they would attempt to find a “workable solution” and find innovative methods to resolve the competing interests of the different factions. Plastic View residents claim in court papers they are still in negotiations with the city and ratepayers’ associations.

They fear the city’s plans to auction the land would negatively affect their tenure rights, and that a private owner would immediately seek an eviction order against them once the land had been transferred. They are seeking a court order to stop the auction of all 74 properties, saying they include several large portions of land suitable for low-cost housing development. They fear the sale would irreparably harm the constitutional rights of homeless people in Tshwane and those living in informal housing.

 

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