Cape Town – In a major victory for the District Six restitution cause, newly appointed Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille halted plans to sell 25 pieces of land belonging to her department.
De Lille said: “I can confirm that the advert for request for proposal has been stopped by me three weeks ago so that we can have proper consultation.
“I was not consulted about this. Some of the land parcels included in the list had been transferred to CPUT (Cape Peninsula of Technology) as part of the District Six land restitution programme.”
According to the District Six Working Committee, the department intended to sell 25 pieces of land within the boundaries of District Six. Seventeen of those parcels were identified for development.
Chairperson of the District Six Working Committee Shahied Ajam said: “To our understanding, within the 150m demarcation within District Six there are parcels of land that Public Works wants to sell off; there are old derelict buildings that they want to get rid off as well.”
Ajam said he was concerned about the 17 parcels of land that were earmarked for development,
“This is concerning because this demarcation falls into the development of District Six.
“If this goes through, we have no choice but to head to court and go the legal route again,” he said.
The Cape Argus reported in May that plans to accommodate the rest of the District Six land claimants had hit another snag due to a stalemate between CPUT and government departments over the transfer of land.
A document pointing out that the houses in Phase 3 of the development, for about 108 claimants, wouldn’t be handed over until title deeds could be issued was currently being discussed by the Human Settlements Department and the City of Cape Town.
The document also points out that it appears that for Phase 3 (Q site) to be completed, CPUT needs to transfer about 5.6hectares of land to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, but that hasn’t happened yet as the institution is waiting for the Department of Public Works to transfer land to the university for its future expansion.
And it is here that the problem lies.
Public Works said it could not release the land to CPUT as it was needed by other state departments.
Former rural development and land reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said It would eventually cost R11billion to develop District Six, of which R2.4bn would be needed to provide housing for the just fewer than 1000 remaining claimants.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the department would only be able to contribute R351million to the construction of the remaining houses and that other sources of revenue including public/private partnership would have to be explored.
In its reaction to the latest development, CPUT said that it was an active participant in all the discussions surrounding District Six and around the distribution of land.
“CPUT remains committed to engaging with various stakeholders and the process is currently still ongoing,” said CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley.