Court Halts Building of Amazon’s Africa Headquarters in Cape Town

The building of Amazon’s new Africa headquarters has been blocked by a South African court after certain relatives of the country’s first residents claimed the land on which it would be located was holy.

The project developer was barred from continuing construction at the Cape Town site until meaningful engagement and consultation with impacted indigenous peoples had taken place, according to the Western Cape division of the High Court.

In her judgement, Judge Patricia Goliath stated, “This issue essentially involves the rights of indigenous peoples…. The basic right to culture and history of indigenous communities, more specifically the Khoi and San First Nations Peoples, is under threat in the absence of sufficient consultation.”

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The Khoi and San were the first people to settle in South Africa, with the latter roving as hunter gatherers for tens of thousands of years and the former joining them as pastoralists around 2,000 years ago.

Because it is at the confluence of two sacred rivers, the Black and Liesbeek Rivers, some of their ancestors have protested to the River Club development, which includes proposals for a hotel, retail offices, and houses as well as Amazon as the “anchor tenant.” find out more

The idea was not opposed by everyone who identified with the Khoi and San. A group of Khoi and San who backed it was one of the case’s respondents.

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Amazon was not listed as a responder, and it did not reply to an emailed request for comment received after business hours. A spokeswoman declined to comment when the court action was first filed earlier this year. find out more

Goliath stated that her decision should not be interpreted as a criticism on the project, but rather that the main problem was that adequate consultation was required before it could proceed.

Amazon currently employs thousands of employees in Cape Town’s data centres, and with over a third of the country’s workforce unemployed, the government is eager to attract international investment.

Despite the fact that the lawsuit was in court, work on the River Club construction continued.

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