The Western Cape High Court heard a case brought by the Philippi Horticultural Area Food and Farming (PHA) Campaign against the City of Cape Town this week. The PHA Campaign are fighting to prevent the city from rezoning and developing a specific part of the Philippi Horticultural Area.
The PHA Campaign have been working for years to protect the area from development and sand mining, according to their Facebook page. The High Court review filed by the PHA Campaign includes for consideration 12 development permissions and a request for confirmation on whether or not the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act applies to this agriculture-zoned area.
“This particular court case is precedent-setting. If we lose, we will lose the rest of the Philippi Horticultural Area, and the Cape Flats Aquifer,” farmer and founder of the PHA Campaign, Nazeer Sonday told Ground Up. “Everyone is affected by what happens to the PHA.”
Local Philippi organic farmer & campaign leader Nazeer Sonday updating eager supporters on the High Court steps today: They can give us a thousand words but there is only one word for Truth. Amandla! #SaveThePHA #carrotsnotconcrete #organicfarming #foodsecurity #capeflatsaquifer pic.twitter.com/GmakVEVInk
— PHA Food & Farming Campaign (@phacampaign) October 16, 2019
According to the Campaign, the area has been farmed for over 130 years . Originally proclaimed a horticultural area in 1968, it is the most productive horticultural area in the country, producing up to five harvests of some crops per year. It also sits above a natural aquifer that provides the crops with water. It is made up of 3 000 hectares of farmland, which employs 6 000 people.
The City has defended it’s position saying that the planned development on the land being disputed will include, “a mixed use development that will provide housing for 15 000 families, schools, and job opportunities through the provision of commercial, office, retail and industrial development.”
They also argue that the specific land that has been granted for development is not being used for farming and that they have required the developer to submit draft stormwater plans so as not to disrupt the aquifer.
In court, the city accused the PHA Campaign of “myth-making.” Meanwhile PHA Campaign supporters have been protesting outside the court. Judgement on the case has been reserved, with no confirmed deadline for when it will be handed down.