News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday January 20th 2019

‘We don’t need another mall’ say Princess Vlei protestors

Philip Bam and Graham Lashbrooke take part in the 'Stand for Princess Vlei' campaign opposing the development of a mall on the green recreational space amidst some of Cape Town's working class suburbs. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

23.09.2012

Legend has it that a Khoisan Princess was in the habit of walking down from the Constantiaberg to swim in one of the Vleis at the base of the mountain that sparkle like a string of jewels in the morning sunlight.

But tragedy struck when the princess was kidnapped by the first Portuguese sailors who rounded Cape Point.

Her tears created the smallest and uppermost Vlei in the necklace of wetlands, known ever since as Princess Vlei.

More precisely, Princess Vlei has for decades served as a fishing, picnicking and recreation area for the residents of the surrounding working class suburbs and plans to build a shopping mall on its banks have led to a protracted battle against the development.

What makes this environmental struggle different is that it is not the usual middle-class or academic protestors at the forefront, but the residents of working class suburbs like Grassy Park who make use of the Vlei and surrounds.

This week they held a five-day awareness campaign where protestors stood along the M5 during rush hours traffic to create awareness of the provincial government’s green light to private company Insight Development, who want to build a 9090 square metre mall on the banks.

The City of Cape Town subsequently declined to extend the zoning rights previously granted to the developer but Provincial MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell in April overturned this decision by the City Spatial Planning Committee.

All that now stands in the developer’s way is fulfilling technical requirements imposed by the City and meeting the City’s purchase price which is yet to be set.

But those opposed may yet throw a legal spanner in the works,

Kelvin Cochraine of the Princess Vlei Forum said they have documents indicating the Environmental Impact Assessment was skewed in favour of the developer and are submitting evidence National Prosecuting Authority and the Public Protector.

An official who checked in the case files at the Public Protector confirmed the PVF case had been assigned to an investigation officer.

Advocate Sharief America, 43, from Grassy Park, said the Vlei was a green space that was part of people’s lives.

“No government is going to create a fiction story to dispossess our land. This land belongs to us and to our ancestors. We fought for it during the apartheid regime there is no way this land is just going to be taken away from us.”

Pensioner Graham Lashbrooke, 72 who has lived his entire life in neighbouring Bergvliet, said there were “plenty of malls around here”.

“We don’t need another mall,” he said. – Peter Luhanga

Tags: Anton Bredell, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Graham Lashbrooke, Kelvin Cochraine, Princess Vlei, Sharief America, Spatial Planning Committee

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One Response to “‘We don’t need another mall’ say Princess Vlei protestors”

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