Amazon’s planned construction of a new Africa headquarters in Cape Town has been placed on hold by South Africa’s High Court – BMA has learned. The court ordered the global company to first consult with the people of the land who have raised concerns that the site of the construction is on sacred ground.
In a statement, the Developer of the site, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, noted that the building work should cease immediately. However, a court ruling on March 18 had stated that “an engagement and consultation is required with the original habitants of the land, the Khoisan people, before the development can continue.”
“In the absence of proper consultation, the indigenous’ group’s right to culture and heritage, especially the Khoi and San First Nations Peoples (also known as the SAN), are under threat,” said the Cape Town, Western Cape Division of the High Court.
According to reports, Amazon had declined to comment on the outcome of the court’s ruling.
A spokesperson for the indigenous people’s Goringhaicona Khoena Council, Tauriq Jenkins, responded to the media’s request to comment by stating that “the group is aware of the ruling and we will review and weigh the outcome with favourable prospects.”
Although the City of Cape Town approved the building of the Amazon site, it said that the approval meant thousands of jobs that would boost South Africa’s struggling economy, which was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the decision drew heavy criticism from the Khoisan people.
The court ruling stressed that “the development economic, infrastructural and public benefit can never override the rights of First Nations Peoples.”