Heritage land dispute over Amazon’s new Africa HQ goes to court


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Groups representing the descendants of South Africa’s earliest inhabitants, the Khoi and San, went to court on Wednesday to strive to halt development of Amazon’s new 70,000-square metre Africa headquarters on land they regard as sacred.

The culturally-intertwined San and Khoi have been the primary inhabitants of South Africa. The former lived as hunter gatherers for tens of 1000’s of years, and the latter joined them as pastoralists greater than 2,000 years in the past.

Some Khoi and San welcome the prospect of jobs from the 4 billion rand ($259.03 million) improvement close to Cape Town, together with a lodge, retail places of work and houses, and with Amazon — which employs 1000’s of individuals in knowledge hubs within the metropolis — as its primary tenant.

But the challenge has confronted a backlash from Khoi and San group leaders, who say they symbolize the vast majority of their individuals.

The authorized motion is towards the challenge developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, the City of Cape Town and Western Cape Province and a gaggle of Khoi and San who assist the event. The court case is due to final three days.

The website lies on the confluence of two rivers, the Black River and the Liesbeek, of paramount religious significance to each teams. It will even block their view to the equally sacred Lion’s Head mountain, stated Tauriq Jenkins of the Goringhaicona Khoena Council, a Khoi conventional group opposed to the challenge.

“It is a deeply disturbing factor,” he stated. “There is nothing sacred left on this world for indigenous communities.”

Yet with a 3rd of South Africans unemployed, authorities are eager to encourage international funding.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to remark.

James Tannanberger, spokesperson for the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLTP), stated in a press release on Wednesday that almost all of South Africa’s first individuals supported the event.

“The redevelopment will carry huge profit to the individuals of Cape Town,” Tannanberger stated. “It is unlucky {that a} small group of people seem hell bent on blocking (it).”

The Khoi and San have been displaced from a lot of South Africa, first by Black settlers from central Africa, then a lot later by white colonial invaders from Europe, whom they fought to defend their remaining enclaves.

In one such battle on the Cape half a millennium in the past, the Khoi and San defeated a Portuguese raiding expedition on the spot presently below dispute. The website stays an emblem of resistance.

“For us, this a floor zero precinct, the epicentre of … resistance to colonialism,” Jenkins stated.

($1 = 15.4424 rand)

(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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