Court stops construction of Amazon's new Africa headquarters.

After being challenged by Indigenous groups, a South African court suspended construction on a new large business park that will house Amazon Africa's headquarters in Cape Town.

Court stops construction of Amazon's new Africa headquarters.

The development would have a negative impact on an area they consider sacred.

For years, the First Nations Indigenous groups have worked to stop the $300 million River Club project. Their ancestors are considered the first peoples of South Africa. Near Table Mountain, the development will include offices, shopping centers and housing. It covers more than 37 acres. The land currently contains a wetlands area as well as a point where two rivers intersect. According to city officials and developers, Amazon will be the principal tenant.

The First Nations groups claim that the area was the scene of some of their people’s first resistance to European colonizers in 16 century. They also believe it has spiritual significance because of the meeting the Liesbeek River and Black rivers.

The Western Cape High Court's decision last week halted building work until proper consultation with Indigenous groups is completed. Tuesday's announcement by the groups indicated that they would now push for the entire project to be scrapped.

"We will be launching a review of all aspects of the development, including how it was permitted to proceed against the City of Cape Town’s own environmental laws," Tauriq Jerkins, a spokesperson for Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Traditional Indigenous Council told The Associated Press.

Jenkins stated that the area is where Indigenous South African people were forced from their land by colonizers. He said that concrete should not be permitted to "further assault the Indigenous people". Cape Town officials overturned an earlier designation of the area as an important heritage site to protect it from development.

Amazon declined to comment on the project which was planned since 2016. However, developers and officials used the name of the online shopping giant in consultations to highlight the potential economic benefits and prestige it would bring to the city.

Officials from the city claimed that the construction phase would create more 5,200 jobs and 19,000 indirect jobs. The city officials also claimed that the development would increase biodiversity in the region, but the judge wasn't convinced.

Jenkins stated that Jenkins was clear in his statement that the court ruled that the economic benefits of the project did not outweigh the rights and heritages of Indigenous people. This was what Jenkins and the city were supposed to consider.

Patricia Goliath, Western Cape deputy judge President, recognized the significance of the site to First Nations people in her decision.

She stated that she was of the opinion that Indigenous groups' fundamental rights to culture and heritage are at risk in the absence proper consultation. Therefore, construction of River Club should be stopped immediately, in order to comply with this fundamental requirement.


 

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