Cape Town - The District Six working committee is concerned that as the number of claimants grows, the land available simply won't be enough for former residents and their families to return to the area.
According to the working committee, there are 3 000 claimants who are fighting to return to District Six. “Its not only the property or the land we lost, we lost our economic sense of empowerment and our sense for social justice and all these things must be restored,” said working committee chairperson Shahied Ajam.
At a public meeting at the Castle of Good Hope on Sunday they reiterated their call to compel government to complete the Phase 3 development of District Six. More than 42 hectares of land will still have to be developed to accommodate the claimants.
Ajam reminded claimants that it remained impractical for the Cape Peninsula of Technology (CPUT) to move its campus to accommodate them.
“Those 42ha are in different parts of District Six and all scattered around, which makes it beautiful in terms of high-density. We are trying to get as many people back to District Six as possible, so currently we have 1 000 people waiting and 2 000 more lodging their claims between 2014 and 2016 and expect another 1 000 to claim as from 2019,” Ajam said.
He said more than 4 000 people were expecting to return to the area.
The purpose of the meeting was to explain the implications of a recent court ruling, made in November last year, as well as outline the next plan of action when the committee returned to court next month.
The committee took the government to court over the slow pace of restitution for District Six claimants.
The meeting comes after the Western Cape High Court sitting as the Lands Claim Court instructed the Department of Land Affairs and Rural Development to submit a “viable and sustainable development plan to the court by February 18, 2019”.
Judge Jody Kollapen told the department that the redevelopment plan should contain the layout and design of the project, how many units would be built, how it would be funded, including allocating a budget, the exact time frames and how the housing units would be allocated.
“What we want is for the City to release portions of land around District Six so we can accommodate the mass claimants that want to return,” Ajam said.
Mayco spatial planning and environment member Marian Nieuwoudt said: “We're more than willing to assist where possible. If they request a certain piece of land, we will look into it.”