Court rules in favour of City over stadium

The suites at Athlone Stadium have been at the centre of a dispute between the City and tenants occupying the space.

The Western Cape High Court ruled in favour of the City of Cape Town on Friday June 21, after five of the tenants at Athlone Stadium brought an urgent application before the high court for an interdict to prevent the City from evicting them, or locking them out from the stadium suites that have been converted to offices.

Earlier this month the Athlone News reported that many of these businesses renting the suites from the City had not secured alternative premises as they accused the City of giving them mixed messages (“Still nowhere to go”, Athlone News, June 12).

The City announced that the stadium would be temporarily closed from Wednesday May 15 to Thursday August 15, for its annual pitch maintenance, and to make alterations to retain its grading certificate, in terms of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA).

The SASREA requirements are there to provide for measures to safeguard the physical well-being of people and property at sports and recreational events, or similar events held at stadia. The SASREA stipulates compliance with a number of certificates such as an electrical compliance certificate, fire and safety certificate, occupational health and safety certificate, a full set of stadium design layouts and approved building plans, among other requirements.

However, the tenants say they have been given mixed messages since they first received notice to vacate the premises in November last year. For this reason, many of them had not yet found any alternative premises.

According to Noore Nacero-dien, the administrator of the United Coalition for Sports and Community Based Organisations (UCSCBO), the tenants of the Athlone Stadium were locked out of their businesses last week.

Said Mr Nacerodien: “The City does not seem to have a coherent plan with Athlone Stadium – the people’s stadium. The stadium holds so much history, yet the City has become ignorant of it.

“In February, the City, via the first citizen of the metro, Mayor Dan Plato, stated that no tenant would be evicted. Three months later, and the City with its officials, suffer from amnesia.”

On Friday June 21, the Western Cape High Court ruled in favour of the City, and dismissed the interdict application brought by the applicants.

The City’s director for economic opportunities and asset management, Kelcy le Keur, said the refusal of a few occupants to comply had led to the shut-down of the facility on Thursday June 20.

She said the space occupied in the East Wing remained non-compliant, which is in contravention of the National Building Regulations and the City of Cape Town by-law relating to community fire safety.

Ms Le Keur said: “As a result of this non-compliance, the City has been issued with a Summary Abatement Notice which prohibits the usage of the entire East Stand. In order to comply with the SASREA, the City undertook a process to obtain all the relevant certification. This process highlighted the non-compliance with the National Building Regulations (NBR), and the fire and safety certificate.

“The City was given until Wednesday June 19 to comply. Non-compliance included no approved building plans for the alterations of the spaces occupied, non-compliant partitioning (not fire-proof) and non-compliance with disabled regulations. Additionally, fire exits were gated and locked that posed an even greater risk in the event of an emergency.

“These non-compliance issues have been communicated with all the occupants since November 2018 and the City explored all avenues to find an amicable solution in order to meet the compliance deadline. Unfortunately, due to resistance from a few occupants, the stadium has been rendered non-available to the community of Cape Town, as at Thursday June 20, until further notice. This will negatively impact on the many PSL games that are scheduled for the new soccer season commencing in August and the many cultural events that occur at the stadium.”