Defend Truth


Whistle-blowers lay out Amazon/River Club developers’ alleged ‘dirty tricks’


Trevor Sacks is an author, activist and volunteer with Save Our Sacred Lands.

How was a private developer able to pull the wool over the eyes of three high court judges? It’s a story of collusion and fraud, with a serving of pork and a smattering of bribery allegations, as told by four whistle-blowers.

Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) is the developer engaged in constructing the African headquarters for Amazon in the Cape Town suburb of Observatory. 

The development has been challenged on heritage, environmental and other grounds since the start – most prominently by the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC), led by its spokesperson and high commissioner, Tauriq Jenkins.

On 8 November 2022, the developer pulled off what seemed like a conclusive victory. A full bench of the Western Cape High Court accepted a claim by LLPT-affiliated lawyers that Jenkins was a fraud. Jenkins was smeared in the press and a subsequent application for leave to appeal left him with enormous legal costs. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Amazon HQ gets go-ahead after judges issue scathing ruling against activist ‘determined to stop development at all costs’ 

Now, four whistle-blowers have come forward to challenge the developer’s version, detailing how the GKKITC was hijacked by outsiders, with key support from the developer, all with the aim of quashing resistance to the building project.

The whistle-blowers’ affidavits confirm Jenkins’ legitimacy as leader of the GKKITC and lay out a conspiracy whose mastermind was none other than the LLPT’s Jody Aufrichtig and Mark Fyfe, with help from an attorney named Tim Dunn.

Former GKKITC member Ebrahim Abrahams’ affidavit recounts several meetings with Aufrichtig and Fyfe of LLPT.

Abrahams says he was first introduced to them by Tania Kleinhans-Cedras of the First Nations Collective, the group set to benefit from the Amazon project. Over lunch in Vangate Mall, Abrahams, Aufrichtig and Fyfe devised a plan to target Jenkins and take down the GKKITC. As detailed in numerous WhatsApp messages, the developers then told Abrahams to work with Dunn, the lawyer whose services were presumably paid for by the developer.

Abrahams had by then left the GKKITC and in March 2022 had founded a new group called the Krotoa of the Goringhaicona. After a meeting of the Krotoa group, attended by Dunn, and in which several new members were bused in, a resolution and affidavits were hurriedly shuttled around. These documents gave support to the Amazon/River Club development and revoked Jenkins’ leadership of the GKKITC.

What’s odd (some might say fraudulent) about the resolution and the affidavits is that they use the name of the GKKITC, and not the group the signatories were actually part of, the Krotoa of the Goringhaicona. These documents were drawn up by Dunn, who was present at the Krotoa group’s meeting. They were then presented to the Western Cape High Court under the guise of being GKKITC documents – and the judges bought them.

The attendance register of the Krotoa of the Goringhaicona for a meeting on 29 May 2022. The subsequent resolution refers to this meeting but is presented as a GKKITC document. (Image: Supplied)

Let’s take a moment to lay out what these whistle-blowers are saying – after all, there are several elements in the story to keep track of. 

Leaders of the Krotoa group pretend to be leaders of the GKKITC. They call for the removal of the real leader of the real GKKITC. Nobody from the real GKKITC is in the room. The lawyer draws up the documents as if they were GKKITC documents, knowing full well he’s dealing with the Krotoa group. Backed by the developers, they go to court to ask the judges to remove the real leader of the real GKKITC – and the judges oblige.

The resolution used in court against Tauriq Jenkins. It refers to the meeting of 29 May, but is written in the name of the GKKITC – not the ‘Krotoa of the Goringhaicona’. It withdraws objection to the Amazon/River Club development and revokes Jenkins’ authority.

Incredibly, Jenkins (a real leader of the real GKKITC), who was unable to afford legal representation at the time, was not given the opportunity by the court to counter these fraudulent claims.

According to an article in Mother City News, while Abrahams initially told the developers to target Jenkins, he was later fed up with the “lies” being told about the Goringhaicona and submitted his affidavit for Jenkins to use in any further legal action.

Who knows whether the whistle-blowers’ other claims can ever be proved – promises of R2-million and a house each; the settling of mortgages. 

Abrahams says he was told by a First Nations Collective leader to “name your price” when engaging with the developers. Another Muslim whistle-blower said she objected to being served pork at a meeting paid for by the developer’s representative, Mark Fyfe, and was told by one of the other Krotoa leaders “to put the pork to one side and eat the rest of the food so as not to insult our benefactors”.

According to Mother City News, Dunn said there was nothing in his clients’ instructions that was questionable. He labelled Abrahams an “imposter attempting to piggyback off their tribe for his own gain”.

What’s certain is that the courts now need to urgently re-examine the story that was presented to them by Dunn and his associates. 

With what sleight of hand was he able to transform the Krotoa group into the GKKITC, and produce documents removing the GKKITC’s legitimate leadership? How was a Krotoa attendance register entered into the court records as that of the GKKITC? How did the judges miss the discrepancy?

It would be convenient for the developer and its supporters from the Cape Town municipality if the entire matter was simply written off by the public as petty infighting among marginalised groups. Perhaps they’re counting on the public’s confusion and fatigue.

But serious objections to the development remain – on heritage grounds alone, even setting aside serious environmental and town planning considerations. 

If the developer was so desperate as to deploy allegedly fraudulent means to remove indigenous voices who object to the building, that should tell us something about the strength of those objections.

That LLPT was able to blatantly ignore an earlier high court order to halt construction, without any consequences whatsoever, has never been examined. Neither has the city’s approval process – a judicial review might consider the fact that the province’s heritage body and the city’s environmental authority both objected to the development, but were ignored. 

There should be accountability for those who allegedly bulldoze their way through processes meant to safeguard our constitutional rights and who will go to extreme lengths to silence voices that speak out against them. 

It’s imperative that Jenkins’ legitimacy and the legitimacy of the GKKITC are restored so that he and the many supporters (including 75,500 petition signatories) can once more take up the fight. DM

Daily Maverick approached Amazon and Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, asking them to comment on some of the information in the above piece. Amazon did not respond.  LLPT send the response below:

The developer has always acted professionally and ethically and with respect for all First Nations individual and groups’ own agency. Any suggestion of impropriety is categorically denied and should instead be directed to Mr Tauriq Jenkins who was found unanimously by a full bench of the Western Cape High Court to have acted fraudulently for various reasons that were spelt out in the judgment, including when he claimed to represent the Goringhaicona in his legal action against the River Club development. Mr Jenkins’ subsequent application for leave to appeal against this ruling has been dismissed by the courts with costs against him, which is why he and his supporters are now turning to the media to continue driving their misinformation campaign. The developer’s number one priority remains delivering a world-class development that will offer numerous benefits to the citizens of the Western Cape.

Any other roleplayers wishing to comment are welcome to email [email protected]


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  • Tim O'Connor says:

    Wow, these developers sound very corrupt.

  • Chris 123 says:

    Whatever the guy’s credentials are or were, it was always an attempt to extract money from the developers, just another Mafia in disguise, I went to the driving range there for years no sign of “indigenous people” then.

    • Kimberley K. Stone says:

      In case you hadn’t read the whole article there are at least three different indigenous groups vying for power here. Two of which are getting paid. One of them purging themselves and one of those two now admitting to having acted illegally. Yet you think the guy who is being deliberately and illegally targeted by the developers is attempting to extract money? There was no sign of indigenous people? Is that because the land was empty? Or was this heritage land owned privately that deliberately limited indigenous access? Or is it because the Khoi Khoi have experienced cultural genocide over the last 500 years? Khoi Khoi culture has all but been annihilated to the extent that the oldest known language in the world is not recognised on a national level. You probably didn’t see the hippos either because they were exterminated too.

      • Lucius Casca says:

        The oldest known language is Sumerian.. See, it is emotive arguments, obfuscations and even blatant lies or disregard for facts like this comment that fuel these issues. This is a shake-down in true SA fashion and self-loathing white liberals can’t fall over their feet quickly enough to demonstrate their virtues to these so called “marginslised groups”.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Who calls the shots,Bezos?My opinion is to build it somewhere else .Anyway,it’s just about humans serving their appetite for money in a metropolis

  • Allauddin Thobani Thobani says:

    The download of case blocked by SCRIBD

  • Kimberley K. Stone says:

    I’m so pleased to see this coming to light now. For those of us that have been following the story and engaged in the process of what’s really going on with the River Club Development, it has been both harrowing and disturbing to witness the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) get away with this, and that they have been largely unnamed or referenced through all the proceeds, instead having Amazon conveniently named as the culprit and the big corporate player as opposed to a local Cape Town developer. The behaviour of LLPT is representative of how indigenous people are being treated globally. That many land defenders risk both their reputations, quality of life and lives to protect our sacred lands with little or no support from the powers that be to do the work that governments should be doing. Instead having to foot the costs themselves to uphold our human rights and protect the environment. This is a critical case for indigenous rights everywhere and I do hope that the tide is beginning to turn, I personally can’t wait to see this appalling structure torn down.

    • Steven Burnett says:

      I have also followed this closely and disagree with you completely. The claims against this development are numerous but all flimsy.

      It was essentially halted by 2 individuals, and they have massive cost orders against them that have been waived. They called it David and Goliath, but didn’t rock up with any stones.

      People need to learn to walk away when they have lost a losing cause. The rest of the people of Obs and cape town would like to get this development done.

      • David Barraclough says:

        I fully agree with you. Furthermore, the anti River Club campaign had little to do with indigenous rights, which were in fact used as a proxy for an anti-capitalist, anti-development and anti-multinational company agenda.

  • Eight Stages of White Settler-Colonial Denial

    1 ”They didn’t exist”
    Complete denial of Indigenous presence in given area (country, province, etc). Includes denial of Indigeneity, ”Indigenous Peoples are Settlers too”.

    2 ”If they did, they weren’t here”
    Denial that Indigenous People inhabit/travel/exist in a specific area. Based on euro-centric definitions of evidence of occupation.

    3 ”If they were they didn’t use the land”
    Denial that Indigenous People have a connection with the Land. Euro-centric worldviews of the land as something to be owned and extracted.

    4 ”If they did, they didn’t deserve it”
    Denial that Indigenous People have rights to their Lands. Euro­centric value judgements of ”primitive vs. civilized”, ”nomadic vs. sedentary”.

    5 ”If they did, they lost it”
    Denial that Indigenous People retain rights to their Lands. Based on colonially imposed European systems of law ”might makes right” worldviews.

    6 ”If they didn’t, it doesn’t matter any more”
    Denial that Indigenous Rights are still oinding and take precedence. False claims of supremacy of colonial legal institutions and systems.

    7 ”If it does, we need to move on”
    Denial that violations of Indigenous Rights requires redress. Claims redress is ”disruptive/unfair/reverse racism” & false calls for ”equality”.

    8 ”If we can’t, we are you”
    Denial of separateness of Indigenous Peoples and Rights. Based on attempts to reduce Indigenous Rights to Human Rights, claim Indigeneity, etc.

  • Steven Burnett says:

    Just got my monthly newsletter from the OCA. There’s a headline mention of how the settlement has now been finalised (essentially costs order would have sunk the civic association). Quite coincidental that this article comes out after the settlement, not sure if there was any agreement on continuing the fight in the press. I do find a big contradiction in the newsletter, in one instance it is said that the legal challenges were only dropped due to lack of funds, but then on the Q&A it is stated that numerous legal opinions advised that taking the next step to the constitutional court would not be successful. So which one is it?

  • Tony B says:

    Am I the only one seeing that the main source for this opinion piece admits in his affidavit that he unsuccessfully tried to extort R20 million from the developer for “information and services”?

    • David Buckley says:

      Just consider the facts:
      1. The land, previously rented and owned by the state, was sold for a song to the LLPT in what can only have been the schlenter deal given the ludicrously low price tag, which has never been investigated.
      2. The land is environmentally sensitive, on a flood prone area, and by the city’s/province’s own policies, is highly vulnerable to consequences of global warming. It is also one of the last “green lungs” of the inner city.
      3. The Amazon consultants recommended several other potential sites in the city, none of which involved the negative issues associated with the River Club site, which they never suggested.
      4. Those objecting to the development are not anti-development, but the purported benefits of the Amazon development could be realized at a different, less vulnerable site. Of course LLPT and their sponsors would not have not enjoyed their immense profits.
      5. The whole public participation process has been a disgrace. Over and over the flawed plans and reports of the developer’s were legitimately challenged, but ignored, and little due diligence done by the city’s or province’s public servants and politicians. Rather than constructively responding, the developers employed underhand methods, including besmirching their critics and attempting to divide and conquer.

      Another sad case where the bigger picture is lost and money, politics and influence trounce the law and win the day because of their deep pockets, promises and largesse.

      • Ben Harper says:

        The Liesbeek river at that point has been a concrete canal for decades
        The bird sanctuary on the other side of the Liesbeek Canal is untouched
        The site where the construction is happening/has already happened was dumping site for Transnet Rail for years
        None of what you’ve posted is fact, it’s posturing, conjecture and without a shred of fact or evidence

        • David Buckley says:

          Maybe you can provide substance, then, if you can. Not a flood plain? No such thing as global warming? No flawed reports by LLPT consultants? No alternative sites?

          I and many other stakeholders, including independent (i.e. not paid by the developers) environmental, cultural, hydrological and other experts, have done due diligence in actually taking the time to read their reports, proposals and plans, participated in the public processes and over and over pointed out the issues and often made constructive suggestions allowing for some form of development.

          I have lived right next to the area, at the South African Astronomical Observatory, for many years, so I do think I know what I’m talking about. The Two Rivers Urban Park proposals were aimed to rehabilitate and redevelop the whole area, including the River Club property, in a culturally and environmentally sensitive manner, for public green spaces and the like. Also preserving the sense of place, including for the heritage-listed 200 year old Observatory, where the historical site-lines of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, are destroyed forever by these bland multi-story buildings.

          The point remains that this development could have happened elsewhere in Cape Town, at several different potential sites suggested by Amazon’s consultants, where there would not have been the same issues associated with the current development.

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