District Six claimants complain to standing committee about Minister Thoko Didiza and land claims process
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Cape Town - District Six claimants told the human settlements standing committee that their experience regarding the land claims and housing process had been characterised by inefficiency and a lack of communication from Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza.
During an at times emotionally charged session on Wednesday afternoon, the committee received both written and oral submissions from District Six beneficiaries and their families, with several claimants deciding to brief the committee in person.
The claimants were upset that despite being invited by the committee to engage with them, the minister and department officials declined to show up.
The department sent a message to the committee in which it said it was not accountable to the provincial legislature and if the standing committee wanted answers for the claimants, it should approach the NCOP.
Committee chairperson Matlhodi Maseko (DA) said: “While we never claimed the department accounts to the legislature, they are accountable to the District Six claimants who have been waiting for answers for more than 25 years.
“We maintain that it would only be right for Minister Didiza to come clean before claimants and address those affected here in the Western Cape. It is shameful that more than two decades down the line claimants are still searching for answers.”
Submissions by District Six claimants raised several issues, including the loss of documentation from claimants who first applied for restitution between 1994 and 1998. They also spoke of the continued lack of communication from the department about when claimants could expect to occupy the 108 housing opportunities on Hanover Street.
The committee resolved to extend the submission process until the end of January 2022, as a number of claimants approached the committee after the initial deadline in October.
Committee member Pat Marran (ANC) said Premier Alan Winde should take up the problem of the delays with President Cyril Ramaphosa in order to ensure that the issues were sorted out before many of the aged claimants died.