South Durban Communities went to court to fight what they call the MEC’s flawed decision.
Photos: Residents protested outside the Durban High Court on Friday. An artist’s impression of The Clairwood Logistics Park.
THE South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) and the south Durban communities, represented by the Legal Resource Centre (LRC), argued against a decision by the MEC for the Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, KwaZulu-Natal who approved the development of the Clairwood trucking depot.
The group appeared in the Durban High Court on Friday. Speaking on the case, Desmond D’Sa from the SDCEA said the MEC had been reordered by Judge Vahed to deliver a supplementary answering affidavit by 6 October.
“It was noted that the MEC failed to apply his mind to the reports presented. Additionally, the answering affidavit was poorly compiled. As a result of this the MEC has to pay the wasted costs of the SDCEA,” he said. D’Sa said the application is adjourned to 11 December at the Durban High Court.
This court case highlights the challenges facing the communities since the development commenced, which D’Sa said included the loss of the last green lung in the area, pollution hazards, increase in 2 000 heavy vehicles in the area, loss of recreational space and a decrease in the biodiversity currently present within the Clairwood Racecourse.
“A key issue is environmental injustice, which is of great concern, particularly when one takes into consideration the already compromised living conditions of residents of the community. South Durban communities are resolute that no trucks shall enter through the Basil February Road. The lives of our school children using this interchange are imperative. The Clairwood racecourse, also known as the south Durban’s safety zone in the event of a disaster, has been destroyed. Taking into consideration that the south Durban is still without an emergency plan, with no safety zone to go to in the event of a disaster,” he said.
SDCEA contends that the MEC failed to comply with mandatory and material conditions prescribed by the empowering legislation and failed to consider the requirements for an environmental impact assessment and to place relevant consideration for the decision maker in the form of accurate expert reports. He also failed to consider the absence of a description of the environment in which the proposed development was to be constructed and in particular the impact of the proposed development of the air quality and health of the local community.
In response to the case, Nico Prinsloo, development manager of the Fortress Income Fund, which will develop the former Clairwood Racecourse site, said despite the postponement in the High Court for the MEC to make further submission on the development of Clairwood Logistics Park, the current development will continue as authorised.
“We are disappointed with the delay as we would like the matter concluded. Regarding concerns that additional vehicles on the road will compromise road safety and endanger the safety of learners from local schools, we have committed to investing R135 million in upgrading road infrastructure that will benefit the community and road users as well as our tenants on completion of the project. This extensive project includes upgrading surrounding roads, traffic intersections, pedestrian thoroughfares and on-ramps to the nearby M4 freeway,” he said.
Responding to criticism that public consultation during the EIA and appeal process was inadequate, he said according to the MEC at the time, Michael Mabuyakhulu, the developer adhered to all requirements stipulated in legislation and both advertised and engaged with communities.
“We remain committed to being good neighbours in the community and have a system in place to measure dust regularly along our boundary. The system has been approved by the environmental consultants and regular reports are sent to the authorities,” he said.
Uber stripped of London licence due to lack of corporate responsibility
Uber’s application for a new licence in London has been rejected on the basis that the company is not a “fit and proper” private car hire operator.
Uber said it planned to challenge the ruling by London’s transport authority in the courts immediately.
The current licence expires on 30 September but Uber has 21 days to appeal and can continue to operate until that process expires.
Transport for London said that it had rejected the US ride-hailing company’s application to renew its licence because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks.
The licensing body also said it was concerned by Uber’s use of of Greyball, software that can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to its app and undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he fully supported the decision to revoke Uber’s licence, saying all companies needed to “play by the rules”.
He said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.
“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect –particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”
Uber said in a statement that the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.
“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” the company added.
“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”
James Farrar, a co-claimant in a landmark employment tribunal decision against Uber and chair of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s private hire drivers’ branch, said TfL’s decision would be a “devastating blow” for the company’s drivers.
“To strip Uber of its licence after five years of laissez-faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL,” Farrar said.
“Rather than banish Uber, TfL should have strengthened its regulatory oversight, curbed runaway licensing and protected the worker rights of drivers. The mayor must call for an urgent independent review of TfL to identify the causes of failure and prevent something like this from ever happening again.”
In London, Uber has faced criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions.
Globally, Uber has endured a tumultuous few months after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the company, leading to investor pressure that forced out former chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
The company has been forced to quit several countries including Denmark and Hungary, and has faced regulatory battles in multiple US states and countries around the world.
The Islamic new year: a time for growth and improvement
By: Sheikh Haisam Farache
Milestones are markers fundamental to the human psyche. As we near the end of the calendar year, outside of the controversies surrounding the months of Ramadan and Zul Hijah, have we given any thought to the other months of the Hijri (Islamic) calendar? In fact, could we even say that we know the Islamic months and could we recall them in order?
It is especially imperative for Muslims living outside of Muslim majority nations to maintain a connection to Allah through the specific Prophetic acts of worship encouraged during each particular month and to understand the significance of the Islamic months as they relate to the life of a Muslim.
This week marks the end of the Islamic Year 1438 and with it, the opportunity for a new dawn in nearness to our Creator in 1439, Insha Allah. It is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and to ask Allah to forgive our sins and the sins of our brethren. Additionally, it is a time to look forward to new beginnings and to seek greater closeness to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) by striving to embody our own humanity through consciousness of Allah and service to others.
The first month of the Islamic year is the Month of Allah, commonly called Muharram and it is one of the scared months, whereby the reward for one’s deeds are multiplied, as are the penalties for sins. The month of Muharram contains a special day, the tenth day. It is narrated in Prophetic traditions that the tenth of Muharram was the day Allah decreed for emancipation of Bani Israel (the children of Israel – Prophet Jacob – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) from the tyranny of the Pharaohs. The Jews were freed from their slave hood and the tyrants were dealt the justice of Divine intervention.
In a time and place where those who submitted to the Divine will of Allah were methodically persecuted because of their beliefs; by being enslaved, having their children systematically killed and their women systematically assaulted, the relevance of the story of Bani Israel in Egypt bares particular significance for those who submit in contemporary times and are subject to current trends of a similar nature. Therefore, the significance of Ashura must be more profound to the believer as we approach the end of 2017.
It has also been mentioned that the tenth of Muharram was the day Allah selected to save the people of Prophet Nuh (Noah- peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) from the floods. The common thread in the stories of the Prophets Nuh and Musa (peace and blessing of Allah be upon them both) are that Allah changed the circumstances of the people once they sincerely repented for their misgivings and they firmly entrenched themselves in the ways of their respective Prophets.
The above scenario is identical for the people of our time; if we yearn to have our grievances alleviated and to establish justice and peace, we must repent to Allah and become righteous. Without this vital step, our condition will not change and our sorrows will deepen. Other practical solutions need to be implemented but without internal change in our perceptions and external change in our actions, Allah’s divine assistance will not grace our lives or the lives of humanity. This realization and application is the fundamental step!
How can one day have so much significance? The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is recorded as saying in the fasting of the day of Arafah, I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and in fasting the day of Ashura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it. Therefore, the All-Mighty Lord of the Mercy and Grace pardons a whole year of minor sins and the abovementioned repentance is required to expiate the major sins. Once people repent the divine assistance of Allah begins to descend.
When the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) migrated to Medina, he witnessed the Jews fasting Ashura and he asked why they fasted this day. He was told it was the day Allah emancipated the Musa and his followers from the Pharaohs, so Prophet Musa used to fast this day in gratitude to Allah. A Prophetic tradition states that the best sawm (fasting) after sawm in the month of Ramadan is during the month of Allah, known as Muharam. In particular the fasting of the tenth day of the Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. The Prophet recommended fasting on the tenth and also the ninth of Muharram.
What else can one do to ensure the maximum benefit from the month of Muharram and in particular the tenth day? Another Prophetic tradition related that whoever fasts `Ashura it is as if s/he has fasted the entire year and whoever gives charity on this day it is like the charity of an entire year. Giving charity in secret appeases the wrath of Allah and expedites the Divine Mercy of Allah. The Prophetic acts of fasting and giving charity are causes that Allah uses to improve the human condition, both individually and socially.
For those in a dilemma about which days to fast, the scholars have stated that if there is confusion about the beginning of the month, one should fast for three days, to be sure of fasting on the ninth and tenth days. The difference of opinion of the scholars is indeed a mercy for those who believe.
Furthermore, leading up to New Years Eve (1 January), people, generally, begin to think about their life and some even make resolutions about how they will approach the new year and their work, health and relationships. Could I suggest that believers also use the beginning of the Islamic New Year to also make New Year’s resolutions? Instead of resolutions about material progression, the resolutions of a believer would and should be about one’s progression on the path of enlightenment and nearness to the Creator.
My suggestion would be that each person makes specific intentions for the year regarding; the amount of money one donates to charity, the amount of time one spends volunteering, the amount of time one wastes on idle pursuits (such as non-essential social media interaction, counterproductive YouTube videos and the like), memorizing verses of Quran or Prophetic traditions, making quality time to spend with family, assisting one’s mother and/or father, speaking well with one’s siblings, furthering Islamic knowledge, serving those less fortunate and thanking Allah for the all blessing and bounties for which He has bestowed upon us. In addition, it helps to write down intentions and to regularly review those intentions in order to fulfill those commitments to yourself.
I ask Allah to accept all our deeds for the previous year and to pardon all of our sins, I also ask Allah to make the upcoming year one of great prosperity and advancement for all who proclaim to submit to the Divine will of the Most Merciful Creator of all that is in existence.