Deputy director-general of rural infrastructure at the Department of Rural Development, Leona Archary said in court papers that the department was not aware that the District Six working committee represented claimants.
Archary said the District Six reference group was appointed by the claimants in 2012, as a representative body after concerns were raised in relation to the District Six beneficiary trust. “The State respondents have thus engaged with the reference group as the authorised representative of the claimants and as a means for communication with the larger body of claimants.”
Archary said the reference group and claimants were unhappy with aspects of the development framework.
She said changes in the development plans had a density and typology had a significant impact on the plans for the entire area, as well as the financial aspects. “Given the complaints regarding representivity it was always difficult to establish what the claimants actually wanted. Meetings were sometimes not attended by all claimants, as a result decisions taken were rejected at subsequent meetings which were better attended.”
The court papers were filed just two weeks ago as the court battle between the District Six Working Committee and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform continued after the committee filed a court application against the department's failure to provide restitution to District Six claimants since 1998.
The committee is representing 969 claimants and 22 respondents are listed; 70 of the claimants are elderly, with the oldest already in her nineties.
District Six Working Committee chairperson Shaheed Ajam said: “I am not surprised that they will say that because they are looking for any excuse. They need to focus on the fact that they have failed the residents of District Six and be held accountable.”