Hout Bay, Tuesday, 27 August 2019 – The Hout Bay Ratepayers Association (“HBRA”) held a successful Annual General Meeting on 27 August 2019. During the Chairperson’s address a few achievements of the past year were highlighted, notably taking the City of Cape Town to task in order to force the City to comply with legally required procedures, public relations campaigns, the development of a communications database and talks with the Hout Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association to attempt an amalgamation or working relationship between the two organisations. A major objective going forward in the next year is to appeal to the greater Hout Bay area for support and to communicate more broadly.
The Treasurer’s report showed a significant decline in donations and membership contributions in the last year. The primary expense of the HBRA is legal costs, incurred in the dispute against the City of Cape Town. These costs were higher than was expected as the City on numerous occasions requested postponements of the court case. It was only at the last postponement that the Court awarded a cost order against the City. Due to the decline in income, the HBRA is unfortunately forced to accept a settlement offer on this award, which is 50% less than the taxed costs. A concern was raised about the general apathy of ratepayers, although it was acknowledged that people were exhausted after years of standing up for the rights of the communities in Hout Bay. Members were however encouraged that other ratepayers’ associations have experienced similar battles against unlawful or unjust actions by the City and although it required continuous vigilance, success was achieved and is thus also possible in Hout Bay.
The HBRA also provided feedback on the above litigation against the City of Cape Town. The history of this dispute took the meeting as far back as the 1990s when protracted negotiations between communities of Hout Bay, including Imizamo Yethu, and local and provincial governments resulted in approved plans that would see the upliftment and formalisation of Imizamo Yethu. Despite the formal approval of the plans, the City has failed for more than 20 years to bring these plans, which included curbing the influx of more people, to fruition – resulting in a settlement that is over-populated and where people are forced to live in unacceptable living conditions. Months after the fire of March 2017 the City embarked on a number of unlawful and unjust procedures using the fire, which was no longer an emergency, as their rationale. In order to implement the abovementioned plans, the City will have to i.a. relocate existing residents, but there are procedures that must be adhered to as such relocation has a significant effect on the affected residents, as well as on surrounding communities. The City first attempted to evict residents of Dontse Yakhe (DY) and relocate them on a portion of land in Hughenden estate that is not suitable for accommodation for a number of reasons. Even if these reasons could be overcome, it is too small for the number of temporary shelters proposed and will subject the residents to overcrowding and unhealthy living conditions. While this application was being opposed in court by DY residents and the HBRA, the City filed an administrative application to utilise the same portion of land in Hughenden estate as emergency housing – without there being any emergency – to relocate the residents of DY. This application was approved by the City without following correct procedures and the HBRA had to lodge review proceedings to force the City to follow the correct procedures and to give due consideration to the comments from a number of communities in Hout Bay. While this review process was underway, the City first lodged another application for emergency housing on the exact same facts and then an application for temporary departure to permit the use of the property for shelters. In addition to these applications attempting the same outcome, an outcome that is the subject of litigation, the City also in both instances failed to follow the correct processes, including the correct public consultation processes. The communities of Hout Bay will either have to accept the trampling of their rights by the City or will have to take the City on. At this stage, the only way to do this is through litigation.
The HBRA is hopeful that the litigation would come to an end in September 2019 and requested ratepayers to assist with the legal costs. The HBRA has to provide the attorneys with R80,000 by 30 August 2019. HBRA further envisages being able to immediately react to any unlawful action by the City and for this needs to have funds in reserve. If you are able to donate, please assist the HBRA to stand up for your rights so that the rule of law can prevail in Hout Bay.
The meeting lastly elected the new members of the Executive Committee. Seven nominations were received, duly seconded and accepted and all seven members were duly elected. Our congratulations to the following new members: David Untiedt; Christian Stewart; Zubair Adam; Thomas Jackson; Linda Schmiedeke; Gill Siebert; and Charmaine vd Merwe.
Issued by the Executive Committee of the HBRA
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