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Building defects delays the return for District Six land claimants

Some District Six land claimants were initially informed that they would be moved back to District Six in April 2021. Building defects has caused delays to the issuing of occupancy certificates. These claimants applied for restitution between 1995 and 1998. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Some District Six land claimants were initially informed that they would be moved back to District Six in April 2021. Building defects has caused delays to the issuing of occupancy certificates. These claimants applied for restitution between 1995 and 1998. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Published Jan 31, 2022

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Cape Town - Building defects related to the 108 units allocated for Phase 3 of the District Six land restitution are hindering the return of land claimants.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said 88 of the 108 claimants have accepted the units allocated to them, signed the acceptance letters and completed the settlement agreements with the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner, Western Cape.

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Department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said claimants will be informed of the occupation date and management pl an regarding the handover of the keys as soon as occupancy certificates are issued by the City.

“Phase 3 is in the final formal process of obtaining occupancy certificates for all units. This is dependent on the conclusion of the approval of all building plans, as well as the rectification of all defects raised by both the professional team and municipal building inspectors,” Ngcobo said.

The department said it had requested the municipality to consider granting the certificates while the additional work is undertaken, however, the municipality granted a temporary “Permission to Use”, for a period of 12 months.

“Concerns around inconsistent stair heights and balustrades are preventing the municipality from issuing full occupancy certificates, as these defects are considered to be safety hazards. The contractor is currently in the process of addressing these defects,” Ngcobo said.

“Unfortunately, due to the nature of these defects the corrective work is time-consuming. As an example some instances of stair heights were found to be between 5-10mm too high. To address this will mean that the staircase is effectively demolished and rebuilt.”

The occupancy certificates can only be issued by the City following inspections by the City officials confirming that the buildings comply with the National Building Regulations and applicable legislation.

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“The Department and the City held meetings to discuss various planning matters including the completion and handover of occupational certificates for Phase 3. Both parties agreed that they will firstly expedite the technical processes required to complete Phase 3 and secondly, agreed on setting up a technical forum to proactively manage the approval processes on the future phases and to mitigate potential risks to the redevelopment,” Ngcobo said.

District 6 Working Committee (D6WC) spokesperson Karen Breytenbach said the State’s contractors’ poor workmanship is shocking and unacceptable.

“Especially in light of the fact that they knew most of the claimants are old and vulnerable. They knew there wasn’t money for lifts (which were actually necessary) so why did they build unsafe stairs without proper balustrades? What did they think would happen? It is unacceptable beyond words.”

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