The high court in Cape Town, South Africa has blocked the construction of the new Amazon Africa headquarters to be built in the city, saying the tech titan had not undergone the proper process to acquire the land as it did not consider the indigenous habitants of the area.
Over the years there had been rumours that Amazon would bring its African headquarters to South Africa. However, the company officially announced it was coming to the country in April 2021. The company has since started its multimillion-dollar development late last year after Western Cape officials approved the project.
According to Tech Central, the court said the project would not continue until the retail tech powerhouse consulted and had a meaningful engagement with the affected indigenous Khoi and San people who inhabit the area.
“This matter ultimately concerns the rights of indigenous people. 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,” Judge Patricia Goliath said.
The New York Times revealed that the project had been cursed from the beginning because there had been concerns from some South African government officials about what has now become an outrage for heritage rights. Some government officials raised the point that continuing with the projects might diminish the heritage value of the site.
A South African First Nations Group together with a local residents’ organisation filed a lawsuit to overturn the approval of the project. Amazon has reportedly been mum about the entire situation since.
“The judge basically went with truth and justice,” said Leslie London, the president of the Observatory Civic Association, the residents’ organisation that filed the lawsuit.
Several entities have been opposing the project, including environmentalists who thought it would severely damage the local habitat. The environmentalists said the developers would raise most of the site above the natural ground and fill in the Liesbeek River, which compromises the potential for groundwater recharge when it rains, according to Aljazeera.
By Zintle Nkohla
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