SARDA Land Issue letter to Press

Dear Sir                                                                                    7th May 2013

In a recent resolution of the Land Restitution case against the Badenhorst family of Sillery Farm the land leased by NGO  South African Riding for Disabled (SARDA) for 32 years, Erf 142, Constantia was granted to the Sadien family. It has been said that the claim has now been “settled”.How can this be since all interested and affected parties are only informed of this “fact’” via press reports?

Acting Justice Mpshe has clearly not applied his mind to the issue and made no attempt to consult with the legal tenant of the property Erf 142 which he ordered be transferred to the Sadien family. Nor did he attempt to assess that the property awarded was indeed comparable in value to the property which the Sadien family was forced to sell under the Group Areas Act.While one can have no objection to justice being served at last to the Sadiens who have been so unfairly treated beecause of the iniquitous Group Areas Act, if Acting Justice Mpshe had as a common courtesy insisted that the long term tenant, the South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA) be involved from the outset he would have learnt that

a) the land being erf 142  came into government possession as “Endowment” for subdivision rights granted by the then Cape Provincial government by the landowners being the Madden and Marais families.

b) that the endowment land was designated for “educational purposes” only,

c) that  the then CapeProvincial administration in1981 entered into a 20 year rent-free lease agreement with SARDA. Attempts to formalise a long-term agreement with successive government authorities failed and SARDA was obliged to accept an annual rental which was subsequently reduced to a monthly figure..

d) that the new Western Cape Provincial administration declined to accept rental payments from SARDA as it was averred that the property now vested in the national government and SARDA was informed that approaches to formalise should be addressed to the appropriate national government authority.

e) That SARDA, notwithstanding extensive enquiries, had been unable to identify any national government authority to which rental due should be paid and consequently has been paying the rental money to an attorney’s trust account.

It would seem to be that Acting Justice Mpshe received no guidance from the State and accordingly found no reason to deny the claim to the land by the Sadien family. He made his ruling on an erroneous assumption that the land was vacant despite the fact that SARDA has been there so long that the land on which it stands with its indoor equestrian arena, stables, paddocks, storerooms and toilet facilities, is designated on the Cape Town Streetfinder as an “Equestrian Centre”.

Furthermore the Judge appears to have ignored the fact that there is a huge disparity between the value of the Sillery Farm property and the property now awarded to the Sadien family.This disparity is clearly evident to any informed lay individual.

One is tempted to ask why, if the Sadien family were allowed to pick and choose what state property would be adequate compensation, a piece of the Groot Constantia vineyard or WynbergPark was not selected. The answer is unfortunately rather obvious; land used by a public benefit organization such as SARDA is a much softer target. This is an organistion run by volunteers which supplies free weekly therapeutic riding lessons to about 220 children with physical disabilities of various kinds from special needs schools from all over the Peninsula and mainly from previously disadvantaged areas.

According to reports at least 98 land claims in Constantia are still to be settled.It is indeed surprising that such a huge award should be claimed by one family, the Sadiens, who seem content that the remaining claimants will have to be satisfied with any scraps left over in Constantia. Is this seemingly capricious award what Acting Justice Mpshe would regard as an equitable settlement? I suppose it is a vain hope that if any equity is to be obtained in final settlement of the Constantia land claims, the ad hoc ruling in the matter of the Sadien family claim would be rescinded in order that all claims are fairly treated. How far will the so-called “vacant” land in Constantia stretch in order to settle other such outrageous claims after one family has been permitted to identify the best piece of State land and claim it for themselves only?

And where to now for SARDA, a most esteemed organisation? Is the state going to assist in finding similar land nearby so that they may continue their valuable work?

Yours sincerely,

Philip van der Spuy, 23 Rocklands Road, Simon’s Town, 7975. Tel-Fax 021 786 4409.

Cell:082 465 9915

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