Liesbeek micro-nation versus Amazon.com

IN THE end, the campaign to halt the development of Amazon’s campus in Cape Town seems to have come down to one man versus a very large corporation. It is a great pity that Tauriq Jenkins went out on a limb, in the process turning the legal saga into a minor disaster involving a micro-nation, and notwithstanding the environmental issues at stake.

Jenkins case was checkmated the minute he lost the support of the majority of the Khoisan groups whose backing he was counting on, and in the process, was taken to task by Judges Elizabeth Baartman, Hayley Slingers and James Lekhuleni for misrepresenting his capacity to litigate:

The bench found “Mr Jenkins misrepresented the first applicant’s constitution and did not have the authorisation to launch the proceedings that culminated in the judgement. He further misrepresented the views of some indigenous leaders without consulting them.”

An earlier interdict granted by Judge Goliath of the High Court was thus shot down and the applicant Amazon’s case brought to set aside the decision, was consequently upheld.

Groups such as the Observatory Civic Association and Friends of the Liesbeek had stepped back from the fray, in order for the issue of ‘who represents who’ when it comes to the multivaried ‘Khoisan Nation’, to be resolved, (with anything but unanimity) and appear to have been waiting upon a decision on the first injunction granted in order to regroup their support around a far broader issue — one involving simple environmental concerns rather than complex issues of heritage and history.

While the River Club Development now seems a foregone conclusion, the related Two Rivers Site remains situated on extremely sensitive wetland at the confluence of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers. Amazon has gone some way towards including wilderness preservation within its overall planning on both sites, but it remains to be seen if the developers have bothered gaining an Environmental Impact Assessment for their pet project.

How would constructing a complex on a flood plane on top of a wetland even pass NEMA?

It may be a bit late in the day to do anything about the situation, and a better outcome might involve compromise? According to Leslie London, “the case is still ongoing

“Our legal team, Cullinans and Associates, has had to withdraw but the primary reason is the proliferation of litigation coming from the developers and/or their proxies which has exhausted the capacity of Cullinans to act on our behalf. It has also meant that our fundraising has been outstripped by the demands of endless and spurious litigation.”

“However, a new legal team will take over the case.”

“We believe that this strategy is one deliberately intended to litigate us into submission. This strategy has, as Observatory residents know, been accompanied by various other underhand stunts, from rent-a-crowd protesters to anonymous leaflets and smear campaigns against our leadership.

It should be noted, that Jenkins did not represent these two entities, and appears to have simply pursued the ‘public interest’ around the campaign.

“While this is a temporary setback, which has affected our ability to contest the appeal, the case in its entirety is ongoing. We believe we have a strong case on review and will be concluding the appointment of our new legal representative shortly. We will definitely not be giving up, no matter the propaganda.”

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