Response to CONSTANTIA RATE PAYERS ASSOCIATION ,CRRA
Subject: From reclaimed farm to a mall!
I’m a member of the Hadji Abdullah Solomon Family Trust and I would be happy to engage with you regarding issues related to the Solomon land on Ladies Mile Road. Please note that all information pertaining to the development is available on the CRRA website and despite this I’ve read numerous posts on facebook that are ridiculously out of sync with the facts. Some of the posters have obviously not taken the time to read the freely available information and hence are willfully misinformed and their erroneous reactions show this.
We received our land title deed in December 2012 and since then we’ve endeavoured to be transparent and open with regard to the proposed development. We’ve engaged with Ward Councilor, Elizabeth Brunette and members of the Rate Payers Association during 2015. The Solomon Family Trusts are and will remain the land owners and the Site Development Plan has been lodged on behalf of the Family Trusts. Shoprite Checkers Properties is the property developer and will lease the land and property from the Solomon Family Trusts for an extended period, with Checkers being the anchor tenant and the remaining tenancy will be national brands in keeping with the exclusivity of the area.
The public participation process has formally started and all Constantia ratepayers have the right to comment and lodge their concerns. The Trusts and the developer look forward to the opportunity to engage with the community over the coming weeks and months and will answer all questions. The Solomon family is proud of their Constantia heritage, our forefathers put their blood, sweat and tears into this area – LITERALLY! My forefathers and family lie buried at the cemetery on Spaanschemat River road, my grandfather was a trustee of the mosque on Constantia Main road and contributed to the mosque rates and taxes until the day he died!
We have every intention of complying with the rules and regulations of the local municipality. We are 100% committed to maintaining the exclusivity and rural feel of Constantia and the development has been designed accordingly, using top calibre urban design professionals!
So now we’ve hit the headlines on the 4th of July and I feel that the headline of “From reclaimed farm to a mall” is somewhat disingenuous when taking into account the painful journey my parents had to travel from the time they were forcibly removed till today! I’m happy that your report clarified the “commercial / mixed use” nature of the land prior to the forced removal! A more accurate headline would have read “From dispossessed commercial farmland to dumpsite and back to quality commercial development!”
Growing up in the 1970s, I witnessed the pain my parents suffered when we took Sunday drives from the dusty windswept Cape Flats to Constantia and they’d point out where they played, the fig tree that was in an old aunt’s backyard, the location of an uncle’s home, the location of the butcher, where the Kerekars lived, where the Brenners lived. Stories were told about the Bo Kaap and District Six families coming to visit Constantia on Sundays, spending the entire day and leaving with buckets full of fresh produce from the backyard gardens! The primary school they attended is still there, South Peninsula High School is still there, the cemetery, mosques and the 2 shrines are still in the area!
I’ve been privileged to have lived in the vicinity of Constantia for the past 16 years. My children grew up here and I love my neighbourhood deeply! A lot of thought and planning went into the Site Development Plan to ensure respect for the rural, tranquil nature of Constantia, so I’m comfortable in the knowledge that we have a good plan. I accept that the plan will be challenged and I’m confident in our ability to defend what we propose and if necessary make reasonable compromises in order to arrive at a win win solution.
So, as I said earlier, I’m comfortable that the development will be in compliance with the by laws and the Constantia look and feel. My great grandfather and his descendants looked after that property on Ladies Mile road very well, they were hard working focused people! The land was bought in 1902, they respected the land, it sustained them and it stayed in the family for more than 60 years until my grandparents and parents were forcibly removed. In truth, a more important test for me will always be “what would Hadji Abdullah Solomon have thought of the development and does it comply with his principles?” If that test is passed then I have no inner tension!
Trustee, Hadjie Abdullah Solomon Family Trust