South Africa court stops building of Amazon HQ on sacred land

City authorities last year approved the construction of a nine-storey business and residential complex on a greenfield site that will be anchored by Amazon.
South Africa court stops building of Amazon HQ on sacred land

Agency Report

A South African court has paused construction on a Cape Town complex set to house Amazon's Africa headquarters, siding with indigenous groups that say the land is sacred, in a ruling released Sunday.

A High Court in Cape Town ordered the property developers to hold "meaningful engagement and consultation" with a Khoisan group that prizes the land as a site of their early resistance to European colonisers in 1510.

Construction had already begun on the four-billion-rand (262-million-dollar, 231-million-euro) complex, located on a site that was previously a golf course.

"The fundamental right to culture and heritage of indigenous groups, more particularly the Khoi and San First Nations Peoples, are under threat in the absence of proper consultation," the court said in a ruling dated March 18 but released on Sunday.

The ruling acknowledged that several Khoisan groups have thrown their support behind the project, after the developers agreed to build a heritage, cultural and media centre that will be operated by indigenous groups.

But the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and a neighbourhood association asked the Western Cape High Court to halt construction.

Amazon itself was not named in the case.

City authorities last year approved the construction of a nine-storey business and residential complex on a greenfield site that will be anchored by Amazon.

Its offices would provide total floor space of 70,000 square metres -- equivalent to almost 10 football pitches.

Once hunter-gatherers known under the now-discarded label of Bushmen, the Khoisan suffered deeply under colonisation and apartheid.

Many in their community say they still endure wide social inequalities and lack economic opportunities, and their past remains overlooked.

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