Amazon HQ developer goes to Supreme Court of Appeal

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Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT), the trustee representative of the developer of Amazon’s planned African headquarters, welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA’s) order to grant the company leave to appeal against Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath’s judgement handed down to halt construction.

After over a year of delays to the R4.6 billion River Club re-development, based in Observatory, Cape Town, the SCA last week granted leave to appeal to the defendants – which include the LLPT, provincial environmental authorities, City of Cape Town and Western Cape First Nations Collective – and ordered the matter to be heard before a full bench of the Western Cape division of the High Court, on an urgent basis.

The judgement comes after a court interdict was granted to the plaintiffs in March, as a result of the ongoing legal tussle between LLP and the Liesbeek Action Campaign, which includes Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and environmentalists.

Reacting to the latest judgement, the LLPT says in a statement: “This is a major win for all Capetonians who stand to benefit from the R4.6 billion development, including the construction workers currently working on the site.

“The benefits include 6 000 direct and 19 000 indirect jobs and the Cape Peninsula Khoi memorialising their cultural heritage associated with the area, including the establishment of a heritage, cultural and media centre.”

After deputy judge president Goliath refused the trust’s appeal application earlier this year, the company took it to the Supreme Court.

“Two Supreme Court judges have found there is a reasonable prospect that another judge will come to a different conclusion than Goliath, so they have therefore granted leave to appeal. They have ordered that a bench of three Western Cape judges hear the matter on an urgent basis,” it says.

Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon has threatened to end its contract with LLP.

Responding to ITWeb’s questions about the judgement, Tariq Jenkins, of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council, highlighted that the latest judgement does not in any way give LLPT carte blanche to continue with the construction.

“We note the decision. It remains our view that LLPT has violated the law by autonomously deciding to continue full construction of the site despite the interim interdict order to stop construction by the deputy judge president.

“The same way they went ahead and celebrated with the commencement of massive building and construction, while knowing it would be interdicted, is the cold concretised context for whatever desire they may have currently to celebrate the latest judgement.”

As a result of the continuation of construction, the plaintiffs last month served contempt of court papers on LLP. The contempt of court case is expected be heard before the court this week.

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