District six land claimants outside the Cape High Court after ruling in the land claims matter between D6WC & the South African Government namely Dept of Rural Development was heard. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Although the court ruled in favour of District Six claimants declaring that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform failed to comply with a court order to provide a detailed plan for the development of the area, it may not help their cause.

Chairperson of the District Six advocacy group Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said the judgment was not a victory. “This can never be a victory because this leaves the question about what happens to the redevelopment of District Six.”

Kleinhans-Cedras said the court failed to give the residents a sense of direction of what could take place.

Acting Land Claims Court Judge President Yasmin Meer ruled that the department had failed to comply with a court order to draft a plan to redevelop District Six. He also ruled that the department, currently headed by new minister Thoko Didiza, was found to have failed to comply with the order.

District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam, who took on the department, said that the judgment was a “catalyst” for change in the country. He pleaded for the District Six groupings to join the committee or risk being left out in the cold.

Kleinhans-Cedras said: “He (Ajam) is a very ambitious gentleman but all the people he represents are not verified claimants.”

District Six beneficiary trust chairperson Dr Anwar Nagiah said the ruling was good in terms of holding the government accountable but brings no hope to claimants.

“The judgment does not mean that the redevelopment of District Six will be accelerated; everything still stays the same. The reality is that the working committee has nothing to celebrate, there is no victory,” he said.

Responding to the call to join the committee, Nagiah said that unity was based on principle.

“The committee has always slandered the beneficiary trust and accused us of being corrupt and I am still waiting for Ajam to provide us with evidence that shows that we took money and for his apology,” he said.

The District Six committee was seeking two forms of relief, declaratory relief, which was to provide restitution to the claimants who lodged valid claims by December 31,1998 and mandatory relief, as well as for the department and commission to provide details of funding and budgeting and progress reports.

Ajam said the department must draft a plan and submit it to the court by the end of the month. “We have our own plan and the department has their plan. What we are hoping for is that we can come together and finish District Six.”

He said that any group that does not abide with or respect the court ruling in terms of working together for the greater good of District Six would render themselves liable to be thrown off the bus. “We've waited 20 years to get to this point and there's no turning back. The people have suffered enough,” he said.

Standing committee on human settlements chairperson Matlhodi Maseko welcomed Friday’s ruling and reiterated the call for the mandate and budget for housing of the District Six land restitution project be given to the Western Cape government. “We are willing and able to take over the project from the ANC at national government as it is blatantly obvious that they cannot do the job,” Maseko said.

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Cape Argus