Media Release: SANParks' decision to withdraw from Hangberg Court application an organisational decision
South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced that its decision to withdraw from the Court Application for the eviction of illegally erected dwellings adjacent to the Hangberg settlement in Hout Bay, Cape Town, was made after having taken cognisance of a number of pertinent factors negatively affecting the matter.
The Head of Communications at SANParks, Wanda Mkutshulwa, said that while a number of technical problems had been raised in respect of the application, the withdrawal was done primarily in order to create a climate conducive to negotiations with the Hangberg representatives and with other interested and affected parties. SANParks started talks with the Hangberg community last week in an attempt to find prospects to reaching an amicable resolution to the problem. Talks with the community have been going on since 2005.
While SANParks has been a party to this application, with a view to preventing the encroachment of structures in the Table Mountain National Park, levels of conflict have escalated to the extent that communication had broken down and tensions escalated beyond acceptable levels, necessitating a change in approach.
We recognise that this is primarily a housing issue, and that the City faces tremendous challenges in this regard; however supply of houses to South African citizens is not the competence or mandate of SANParks. In our assessment it would seem that at the heart of the conflict is an agreement entered into between the community of Hangberg and then Mayor of Cape Town and current Premier of the Western Cape Province, Helen Zille, for the in situ upgrade of the area. The delay in implementation of the project is what led to community frustration and escalated the conflict. SANParks was not party to this agreement.
In early discussions with the City of Cape Town, SANParks committed to excise a portion of the land it had received from the Dept of Public Works, which was already under occupation, for the promised in situ housing project. This remains an important part of the solution and SANParks is commited to the original agreements.
Regrettably SANParks also learnt a few days before making the final decision that legal counsel contracted to represent SANParks on the matter had on the basis of discussions with the City representatives contravened a brief given to them with regard to the Court Application on a number of technical matters related to the Court case. The lawyers have since been addressed on this matter.
SANParks continues to be committed to working with the City of Cape Town in attempting to resolve the matter to everyone’s benefit and this message was also conveyed to the City in a meeting that Park Management had with city officials, to inform them of SANParks’ decision to withdraw the Application.
Mkutshulwa said that SANParks’ primary interest and goal continues to be the protection of Table Mountain National Park, which is also a part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage site. “While we will be taking the route of dialogue, we remain committed to achieving our mandate of conserving and restoring the integrity of the Table Mountain National Park” said Mkutshulwa.
We will continue to engage with all parties in the spirit of cooperative governance, to assist in resolving the broader issues.
SANParks Corporate Communications
For Media Enquiries:
- wanda mkutshulwa, Head of Communications, Tel: (012) 426 5201 or 0829082692; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Reynold Thakhuli, GM: Media, Events & Stakeholder Relations, tel: (012) 426 5203 / 073 373 4999 e-mail: email@example.com
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