South Africa News

Amazon slammed for silence over attempts to build on sacred land in Cape Town

Tech giant Amazon has been slammed for its silence over the destruction of sacred Khoi land in Cape Town.

On Friday, Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath granted an interdict against the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, the developer of Amazon’s new African headquarters.

Dozens of Khoi and San activists gathered in Cape Town on Monday to celebrate the court order.

The interdict stops the construction of the building at Riverview.

In her ruling, Judge Goliath recognized the site’s importance as the historic dominion of the Gorinhaiqua nation in pre-colonial times.

In 2015, the over 14 hectares of land on the convergence of two rivers, was sold by the government to developers for R12 million.

An investigation by Heritage Western Cape found in 2017 that the area was indeed a significant cultural site.

Environmental activists there have also long held that this area is vital for the river-ways conservation.

But before the court order last week, developers had already expedited their construction, filling in embankments with sand and cement.

Chairperson of the Observatory Civic Organisation, Leslie London, who was a joint applicant in the court case, said Amazon had tried hard to avoid the negative spotlight.

“This should be a heritage precinct and now you have this behemoth that was designed for Amazon. Amazon have very specific requirements for their buildings, so this is very much their responsibility as well. They’re saying nothing because Amazon does that, they have a lot of power.” said London.

The court interdict will likely be challenged by the developers.

London is hoping that should the order remain in place, the company will soon be forced to undo the construction.

“Unblocking the river, and you know you can put in a few months, you can take it down in a few weeks. They knocked down the river club building, but that’s for the courts to decide.”

Elderly Khoi leaders, together with observatory residents, plan to spend Monday’s Human Rights Day praying over and cleansing the area.


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