Negotiations between the owners of Paradise Park and the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements began on Monday 29 April in a bid to agree on a price for the portion of land that provincial government wants to buy to resettle qualifying, existing residents.
Western Cape Provincial MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela said: “Part of the challenge we had was that the landowner wanted a particular price. We said that when working with government money, we must justify the amount we are paying. We undertook a valuation process and the outcome was different from the asking price. So it is a matter of negotiating with them so that we can find one another.”
For the past three years, the residents of Paradise Park have been engaging in a battle to keep their homes, which will come to a head two days before the 8 May elections when the matter will be heard in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. They say they purchased their homes with long-term lease agreements, but the land has been sold to a developer, who wants them out
During a walkabout on Sunday 28 April, while campaigning for the election in Paradise Park, the MEC also confirmed that, of the 294 residents, 47 have already reached settlements and 168 of the 247 remaining residents have supplied the required information to the Department of Human Settlements so they can be included on the waiting list. Of these, 40% are pensioners.
“We are still waiting for others to come forward to add their names. I’m aware that there are people who are misleading others by telling them not to come forward. It is unfortunate, but we are not going to wait for those people. As soon as we finalise the process with the landowner, we will start the housing process with the people who are prepared to work with us,” added the MEC.
Madikizela’s comments come days after a visit by African National Congress Secretary General Ace Magashule to Paradise Park, last Wednesday. His stopover was widely reported by the national media and placed in the spotlight on what was, to date, a provincial issue. The visit was almost foiled when Magashule’s entourage was denied access to the park by security guards, who had locked the gate. The police were called to intervene, and ANC supporters eventually made their way inside to speak to residents.
In an interview, after meeting with some of the residents, Magashule said that Paradise Park was a case in point as to why land must be expropriated and given to the people who lived on it. He vowed to “fight and remain” with the residents in their struggle to avoid being evicted.
“I have no sympathy for people who are not willing to cooperate. If the landowner decides to evict those people who are not willing to cooperate with us, there is nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried my best,” Madikizela said.
According to him, there is an agreement, with the landowner, that everyone should work together in this process in order to find solutions that suit all parties. “I have made it very clear to the landowner that my intention is to find a solution for the people who are here, especially those who are cooperating,” he added.
Sable Cape Developments has marketed the proposed development on the property as a mix of luxury apartments, village and country homes.