District Six land claimants welcomed the appointment of Thoko Didiza as the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town - The District Six claimants locked in a class action lawsuit against the government over its failure to deliver restitution 25 years into democracy, has welcomed the appointment of Thoko Didiza as the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. 

“We believe that it provides a great opportunity for her to continue where she left off during her previous tenure as Minister of Land Affairs. She comes in with a wealth of experience and that is what’s needed in District Six right now,” said District 6 Working Committee (D6WC) chairman Shahied Ajam. 

The claimants, however, stressed that they had high expectations of Minister Didiza. 

“At the same time, we will be concerned if we do not receive the priority attention that we deserve as the District Six community. We are ready and willing to work together but require greater certainty, focus and dedication from Minister Didiza and her officials to unlock and unblock the opportunity to restore our land in a responsible and sustainable manner. We do not need the Minister to do things for us, but rather with us. Let District Six be the ultimate example of what can be done, instead what should not be done,” said Ajam. 

Addressing Didiza directly, Ajam said: “Ms Thoko Didiza, we simply require of you to ensure that the ideals of our constitution are realised through collaboration and partnership based on respect and dignity. Let us spend our time working on returning of our people to District Six, turning our restitution claims into reality, instead of asserting our rights in a court of law year after year. 

"The right time is now to deliver restitution to our people, after more than 50 years of trauma. Not tomorrow, not in ten years. No more empty promises.”

The D6WC confirmed that they were not aligned with any particular political party, but rather intended to work closely with the executive heads of all three tiers of government in finding closure for the people of District Six. 

“Too many have died in the last twenty years without realising their dream of ever returning to the place that they loved and cherished so much. You may have taken the people out of District 6 but you will never be able to take District Six out of the people.”

The D6WC also congratulated President Cyril Ramaphosa on his newly appointed cabinet and for trimming the number of ministers, while “injecting the much-needed youth capital and at last an equal number of women”. 

“This, we daresay is a fresh approach and it shows that politics in South Africa has taken off in a different direction as opposed to what we’ve experienced over the last 10 years. So perhaps this is the start of the new dawn? We hope so. The people have suffered enough and it’s time to heal right now.”

Cape Argus