Some indigenous groups in South Africa want to stop Amazon building a new HQ on the site of a historic battleground

Protesters in South Africa oppose Amazon's new development, saying it constitutes 'heritage destruction.'
Protesters oppose Amazon’s new Cape Town HQ in a march on June 16, demanding conservation of sacred heritage sites. Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • Amazon is building a new headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Some local indigenous groups oppose the development, saying it’s an important heritage site.
  • The developer said it worked closely with indigenous groups to accommodate their requests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon announced in April it would build a new headquarters for its African operations in Cape Town, South Africa. The development is slated to cover more than 37 acres, and include residential buildings as well as Amazon’s new office.

The development, which is called The River Club, faces fierce opposition from some people belonging to the Khoi and San indigenous groups.

One of their main concerns is that the development is on the approximate site of a 1510 battle between the Khoi and the Portuguese.

Tauriq Jenkins, high commissioner for the Goringhaicona Khoi-Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council, told The Wall Street Journal the council wanted the site to be recognised as a world heritage site.

He also said the site was one of the first places where land was given to Dutch colonists. “This is where the colonial bomb hit,” Jenkins told The Journal.

The Goringhaicona Khoi-Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council and another group called the Observatory Civic Association have applied to the provincial High Court to stop building on the site, but at the moment construction is still underway, The Journal reports.

Jenkins told The Journal that his and other groups will take the case to South Africa’s Constitutional Court if necessary.

“Would Jeff Bezos go into a Native American territory and decide to completely devastate its most sacred terrain to put up an Amazon headquarters?” Jenkins said, adding: “It makes a Disneyland of our heritage.”

Protesters marched against the project in June, and 57,000 people have signed a Change.org petition opposing it. In May, activists appealed to Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott to help oppose the development.

A spokesman for the site’s developer, a company called the Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, told The Journal it consulted with Khoi and San groups and had already adjusted the site to meet their requests.

The developer plans to build a cultural and heritage educational center at the site that focuses on the Khoi and San’s history.

The Journal reported that another local indigenous coalition, called the Western Cape First Nations Collective Trust, supported the development.

Activists opposing the development have also cited its environmental impact and concerns about irregularities in rezoning, per The Journal. The developer refuted these claims to The Journal, saying Cape Town and other local authorities had found “no irregularities.”

When contacted by The Journal, Amazon declined to comment and referred all questions to the developer. Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment. The River Club development project did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider.