One step forward. Two steps backwards. Three steps forward. One step backwards. The net result of this is not a foxtrot, but rather confusion. This seems to be the only way to describe what has been happening with the Schulphoek land issue in Hermanus.

Last week the Cape High Court postponed a decision on whether to grant an eviction order against the illegal occupiers of Schulphoek, which they have renamed Dubai.  

The reasons for the postponement was that the judge did not want to issue an eviction order in winter, and to allow the occupiers’ lawyer additional time to put together a case to oppose the eviction. This is the second postponement the court has granted. In February 2019 a postponement was given until 18 June to give the occupants time to file answering affidavits.

The postponement of the case until shortly before the start of the summer season leaves those on both sides of the fence with a sense of unease. Those living on the land do not know what the future holds and those looking forward to seeing a mixed-use development arising are also left in the dark. Add to that the fact that the landowner’s lawyer stated in court that the authorities will no longer be buying the multimillion-rand sea-facing property and the confusion increases enormously. 

For months, the narrative from the municipality and the Western Cape Government has been that the land would be purchased and a Better Living model development would be constructed on the site giving hundreds of middle class families the opportunity to own a home in Hermanus.

What is urgently required now is clarity from the authorities as to the long-term plans for this controversial site. A repeat of the protest action of last year cannot be afforded, not by those living in squalor nor the business community. Do not keep kicking the ball down the street, take action and fulfill the renewed mandate given to you by the residents of the region. The development of an inclusive, affordable neighbourhood has the support of a multitude of political parties and interest groups. 

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