Cape Town - A Bo-Kaap food garden is at the centre of controversy after being locked – by the private owner of the property, preventing any community members from accessing the site.
Community members who are part of Sustainable Bo-Kaap Association (Suboka) have been looking after the vegetables and plants in the garden for the past few months. They are now up in arms as they believe a notice to vacate the site is unlawful.
The site previously used by vagrants was developed into a community food garden named the Koestas Waqf Food Garden in July last year.
The gates have been locked for over two weeks now and Suboka has been given notice to vacate.
Parker Attorneys & Conveyancers law firm associate Sara Tiseker, speaking on behalf of the Darul Falaah Study Group (DFSG), which is apparently the registered owner of the property, said: “The DFSG trustees have cumulatively exercised control over the property for decades and have provided us with documentation dating to the 1980s in support thereof.”
The firm's letter in response to Suboka said the trustees had been provided with communication from Suboka with requests to run a garden at the property. However no consent was given.
Suboka founder Soraya Booley, who believed the land belonged to the community, said: “The land was bought by the community in the early 1970s, through community fund-raising under the name of Sheikh Hanief Booley. The garden was registered in Sheikh Booley’s Darul Falaah Study Group for the community.”
She said the intention was to build a Islamic school. However, after Sheikh Booley’s death, the land was left abandoned for at least 40 years.
“The objective of the garden was to promote the growing of food all over Bo-Kaap, especially on vacant land where crime took place and inside homes, no matter how small their spaces are. Almost everything that was found on the rubble dump was recycled in the making of our organic garden,” she said.
A report submitted to the Bo-Kaap Civic & Ratepayers Association regarding the land stated: “It is a known fact that the Suboka organisation occupied the property during lockdown as a mechanism to support the growing food need in the community. Without any notice, the Darul Falaah Study Group and the Universal Islamic and Cultural Trust built a gate and stopped access.”