Legal rows stall Cape housing progress

The battle over the transfer of more than 1000ha of prime Western Cape land to the Housing Development Agency is delaying a range of housing projects, including restitution in Constantia, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille complained this week.

‘There was an unlawful land transfer. We simply want to get the land restored. This is a matter of right and wrong, not political squabbling,” said Zille.

She said the former ANC provincial government had illegally transferred the land, worth about R500-million, the day before the April elections.

The Mail & Guardian has revealed how the provincial government is refusing to hand over the title deeds, as lawyers it has consulted believe the transaction is ‘invalid and unenforceable”.

Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale has now asked law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenberg (ENS) to consider the disposal agreements. The legal team includes Chevan Daniels, the son of the chief state law adviser, Enver Daniels.

Chevan Daniels said he saw no conflict of interest: ‘At the time of our appointment, the director general of the department was aware that Enver Daniels was my father. The team acting for the department — included two other directors of ENS and — my views and advice were subject to rigorous peer review by fellow directors.”

Enver Daniels told the M&G he was not aware his son was part of the team advising Sexwale’s department and he had given no official advice on the transfer.

Prime properties in Constantia promised to the regional land claims commissioner, Beverley Jansen, for the resettlement of about 80 claimant families are included in the land transferred to the Housing Development Agency, set up to fast-track housing delivery.

Zille said Sexwale had cancelled a meeting this week, despite the urgency of the matter. She warned: ‘If we can’t have a meeting soon we will proceed with the intergovernmental relations process to achieve an outcome by other means.”

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Glynnis Underhill
Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country.

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