CLOCK’S TICKING: Yusef Williams, his wife Leqa and their children have until Saturday to vacate their home in District Six. The eviction comes after several failed attempts to challenge it in the courts. Picture: Marvin Charles
Cape town - Forty-five years ago, he was evicted from District Six, because of the apartheid Group Areas Act. At the end of this week 80-year-old Yusef Williams will again be evicted from District Six, because the government said he took occupation of his house in Reform Street illegally, even though he is a land claimant.

Williams and his family have been served an eviction notice to vacate their home on Saturday after numerous appeals to the courts failed.“We have nowhere to go and I refuse to go. I won’t move from this house. How can they do this to a person, it’s inhumane?” Williams said

He said they were told by the late Sedick Christians, a trustee of the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust (the trust), in 2013, that they would be allocated an apartment in District Six following their land claim application. Christians handed them the keys in April 2014 at the District Six community offices and they moved in.

However, on May 23, 2014, they were informed by officials from the Land Claims Commission that they were illegally occupying the flat and told to vacate the property. The department, in court papers, stated that a detailed paper trail exists for each successful land claim, but that the flat was not allocated to the Williams or Boyes families.

“I’ve always wanted to come back to District Six because this is where I grew up, and now they want to throw us out where must we go? Where must we move to?” Williams said.

After being forced to move out of District Six in 1973 because of the Group Areas Act, he lodged a claim in 1998.

But after a Western Cape High Court ruling that the families vacate their home by March 31, 2017, they then took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal,

“They have really pushed us around and they are putting us through hell. They want to put us in Wolverivier - how can we live there?” Boyes said.

The Department of Rural Development argued that the property that Williams and his family had been occupying in fact belonged to a claimant named Achmat Matthews, whose land claim was lodged in November, 1995.

“However, Mr Matthews has not been able to enjoy the use and benefit thereof as the applicants and all those holding title under them have unlawfully taken occupation thereof and refuse to vacate,” the department said in court papers.

But Khoisan leader Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said that if the department believes there was some fraudulent activity, they should liaise with the trust.

“The building belongs to the trust; they are the ones who can evict tenants.

“The fact that Williams transferred the claim to the next generation is his right because Shahida is a relative. This family has been wrongly victimised and they (the department) are abusing their power.”


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Cape Argus