Sarda faces final notice

The plot currently occupied by Sarda.

As the South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA) enjoys their third Countryside Challenge, which started on Monday October 22 and ends at 5pm tomorrow, Friday October 26, the fear of being evicted continues to hang over their heads.

CEO of Sarda Cape Town, Belinda Thom, said on Friday October 19 they received a letter from Ighsaan Sadien on behalf of his client, the Sadien Family, informing them that they would be requesting transfer of erf 142 into their name with immediate effect.

Sarda, which has occupied the state-owned land for 36 years, first heard from a neighbour that the Land Claims Court had awarded the property to the Sadien family in March 2013. They took the issue to the Constitutional Court but lost the case (“Sarda loses battle,” Bulletin, March 2, 2017).

However, on Thursday February 23 2017, Justice Chris Jafta, said Sarda must be compensated should it be evicted. Ms Thom said they have lodged the relevant papers with the Land Claims Court and are awaiting the outcome to determine what compensation would be payable.

Meanwhile, they have been searching for alternative land. Ms Thom said contrary to rumours, they are not moving to the Porter land, although it would be ideal.

The Department of Public Works say the 8.9 hectare land in Brommersvlei Road is worth R128m. It was awarded to claimant Sedick Sadien on February 8, 2013, in lieu of land in the Sillery area of Constantia (“Sarda headed for Concourt,” Bulletin, July 21, 2016) and (“Fight to stay on the land,” Bulletin, March 14, 2013).

In March 2017, Ms Thom said a teenage member of the Sadien family, who has cerebral palsy, was one of about 180 children, from 13 special needs schools, having therapeutic riding lessons with Sarda.

In the Sadien letter it states that their only involvement in the outcome of the compensation decision is that the Sadien Family are an “interested party” and that they “will not be affected by the outcome”.

“In light of this, the Sadien Family is not barred from receiving transfer of erf 142, Constantia and will proceed to request transfer of the land immediately. It has been five years and six months since the amended Land Claims Court order,” said the letter.

Ms Thom said what concerns her, as a Constantia resident, is that once transfer takes place the zoning falls away. The land is presently zoned education and would allow for the Sadien family to build about 50 houses for the family.

The Bulletin sent three emails to attorney Ighsaan Sadien and also tried to speak to him, recently and in the past, but he has not responded.

Sarda’s attorney Michael Wagener said the State cannot transfer the land without a court order. “There was one but it has been set aside,” said Mr Wagener.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said there can be no transfer of the property, and no change in land use as the case is pending in the Land Claims Court.

The land will be released as alternative state land to the Sadien family but the Land Claims Commission will instruct the conveyancer, which is the state attorney, to effect such transfer and not the family. She said the financial compensation to SARDA as lessee on the land must first be settled.

Meanwhile, Sarda’s 180 riders are participating in the Countryside Challenge. Ms Thom said they have wanted to host this event for a long time but it is very expensive. “It’s modelled on the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) events held in Britain. The equestrian obstacle course gives Sarda’s differently-abled children a chance to show off some of the skills and prowess they have achieved through their therapeutic riding classes in front of members of the public,” she said.

The event was made possible after a former African Bank staff member, Stacey Baisitse, won a competition at work and chose Sarda for their corporate social initiative as her 13-year-old nephew Jaden Gallant, is living with spastic quadriplegia, a severe form of cerebral palsy caused by a loss of oxygen to the brain at birth. “The condition affects the entire body. Sufferers often cannot walk and have stiff limbs and no voluntary control over their necks. I’ve seen the incredible benefits from therapeutic horse riding,” said Ms Baisitse.

What started out as a small involvement has grown into a meaningful sponsorship of the full five-day event.

Ms Thom said riders are aided by Sarda volunteers, usually three who sometimes hold the child on the horse while two others lead. The Sarda obstacle course has an African twist, using beaded flamingos, instead of sheep, made by crafters from Constantia Village. This year sees the addition of a beautiful 1.5m-long beaded lion. “We thought the horses might be spooked by having a predator in the arena but they’re fine,” said Ms Thom.

Riders perform various tasks on the course, such as riding a figure of eight, posting a letter in a post box and picking a doughnut from a pole. “At each stop they use steering, colours, numbers and balance using different muscles just sitting on a horse that is walking,” said Ms Thom.

She said it is also about the social benefits and building relationships with the horse, interacting with different people and experiencing this place with all the trees and dogs and cats running around.

Sarda spokesperson, Bee Lukey, said the confidence that every rider develops through this therapy and the recognition achieved by participating in an event in front of an audience are a pinnacle of the hard work achieved at Sarda and spills into the lives of the communities the riders live in.

Sarda Cape Town was established in 1973 by Belinda Sampson and Joy Finlay to give children and adults living with disabilities the opportunity to take free therapeutic horse riding lessons. Since its inception, SARDA Cape Town has grown from five riders to its existing 180 a week.

The countryside challenge started on Monday October 22 and ends on Friday October 26, from 9am to noon and 2pm to 5pm. For more about Sarda, call 021 794 4393 or email ncourt,” Bulletin, July 21, 2016) and (“Fight to stay on the land,” Bulletin, March 14, 2013).