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South African Court Allows Construction Of Amazon’s New African Headquarters In Cape Town

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A South African court has reversed a previous order holding the construction of Amazon’s new African headquarters in Cape Town. The decision came after some descendants of the land’s oldest inhabitants claimed that the said land is sacred. 

In March this year, the court justified holding the project by saying that without adequate consultation, the fundamental right to culture and heritage of indigenous groups, particularly the Khoi and San First Nation peoples, were under threat.

The Western Cape’s High Court, now allowing the construction, has been praised on its decision by Amazon’s developers who consider it a “major win” for employment in the tourist city. Cape Town has witnessed three decades of racial and class divisions even after apartheid ended. 

After Tuesday’s judgment, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) in a statement, said, “This is a major win for all Capetonians who stand to benefit from the 4.6 billion rands ($260 million) project.”

The court determined that the respondents, notably Tauriq Jenkins of the Goringhaicona Khoena Council, a traditional Khoi organization opposed to the project, had failed to show that the right to heritage is in danger of any injury, much less irreparable harm.

A section of the court’s judgment read, “Without a prima facie right, the respondents never got out of the starting blocks.”

The Khoi and the San were South Africa’s earliest inhabitants. San roamed as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years, and Khoi indigenous people were pastoralists more than 2,000 years ago.

Their descendants had expressed their objections to the River Club development, where Amazon would be the “anchor tenant” but the plan also includes a hotel, retail offices, and homes.

Amazon was never named as a respondent. “We are likely to appeal (the judgment),” Jenkins told British news agency Reuters on Wednesday. He also urged for a court review of the original decision granting authorization to build on the disputed site must be heard.

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