Sarda loses battle

The South African Riding for the Disabled Association (SARDA) has lost its Constitutional Court battle to remain on Constantia land it has occupied for 35 years.

However, the judgment on Thursday February 23 by Justice Chris Jafta, said Sarda must be compensated should it be moved off the state-owned land. The ruling effectively stalls Sarda’s eviction from the land while the association approaches the Land Claims Court to determine what compensation would be payable.

The 8.9ha piece of land was awarded to claimant Sedick Sadien in 2012, 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).

Dout Sadien originally bought Sillery Farm in 1902, using it for agricultural purposes. Under apartheid, the Sadien family were forced to sell in 1963.

In March last year, Sarda’s Western Cape director Belinda Thom said a teenage member of the Sadien family, who has cerebral palsy, was having therapeutic riding lessons with them. Some 200 children from 13 special needs schools have therapeutic riding lessons on the Brommersvlei Road land, which the Department of Public Works says is worth R128m.

When the Bulletin called the Sadien law firm on Tuesday (February 28) the secretary said Sedick Sadien had died last year. She asked that we email questions to Ebrahim Sadien at the law firm, which we did, asking for confirmation of Sedick Sadien’s death and what would happen to the land now.

The Sadien family did not respond by the time this edition went to print.

Ms Thom said the association felt “partially vindicated” that the Constitutional Court had found it should be compensated.

“We were turned down by the Land Claims Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, and I think it’s a huge victory that we are finally going to be recognised as the lawful occupiers of the land,” she said. “However, we are seeking compensation in the form of land and not money.”

In their search for suitable land, Sarda members have found that what is available has either been earmarked for land claims or development. “We’ve exhausted our search for alternative land, but hope that after this ruling we can, with the City of Cape Town and provincial government, secure land to ensure that our riders stay in the saddle. We’ve been saving money to use in the relocation.”

Ms Thom said Sarda did not need 8ha, and 3.23ha (8 acre) would be suitable, but it would cost the association R3m to R4m an acre. “We don’t think we’ll get that, and that is why there’s a sense of sorrow today.”

She said the judgment had come earlier than expected. The first they had heard of it was when a journalist had contacted them for com-
ment.

Justice Jafta said the Land Claims Court had unlawfully deprived Sarda of compensation for the loss of use of the land as the association had made improvements worth R7.5m.

“Our next step will be to wait for a date in the Land Claims Court to determine the compensation that will be payable,” said Ms Thom.

The court awarded costs against
the regional land claims commissioner.