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Fears gentrification will occur as soon as a few District Six land claimants return

Fears that gentrification will take place as soon as the few land claimants have returned, leaving the available land open for opportunistic developers. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Fears that gentrification will take place as soon as the few land claimants have returned, leaving the available land open for opportunistic developers. File picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 29, 2021

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Cape Town - The District Six Beneficiary and Redevelopment Trust said it fears gentrification will take place as soon as the few land claimants have returned, leaving the available land open for opportunistic developers.

The views were shared during a media briefing, at the St Philip’s Church Hall, Chapel Street, District Six, on Thursday.

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Trust chairperson Nadeem Hendricks said: “We are very worried that the land that’s left is going to be sold and District Six will be gentrified.

“District Six was never about 954 homes. District Six was about building homes for all the people who lived in District Six,” Hendricks said.

Around 108 families were expected to return in phase 3 of the restitution process in April. However, several delays have made the return unsure.

Hendricks said the national government should investigate alleged corruption to have occurred during phase 3, with their estimates at over R4million per single dwelling.

Trust media liaison Naeem Frances said: “If there is any form of irregularity, and our processes with the judicial system will bring that to the fore, how can this process be ongoing whilst the R123 m irregular spending hasn’t been addressed yet? We need to bring to task the ones who were involved in that.”

The remaining land, around 37 hectares, should not fall into the hands of developers with capitalist intentions, said Frances.

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“There is no doubt that the Department of Land Reform and the City will only allow so many dwellings that are necessary to house the legal claimants to be built on the smallest amount of land possible. That’s 975 dwelling units. The remaining land will remain in the hands of the City to be dished out to their big property developer friends,” read a statement by the Trust.

Demands made by the Trust include that any further plans for the redevelopment of District Six be shelved until the development framework business plan for District Six is properly considered and decided upon by the claimant community, latecomers be formally and unequivocally recognised as legitimate claimants and that all publicly owned vacant land in District Six be expropriated from the different government departments and the City and transferred to an entity appointed by the claimant community.

Once letters have been sent to relevant parties they will have 30 days to respond to demands or face litigation.

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The Trust called phase 3 of the restitution process a wasteful expenditure.

“We need to look beyond the allocation of funding and we need to look at who these contracts were awarded to. Cape Town has some of the best skills set when it comes to construction.

“So we ask why was this contract awarded to an organisation outside of Cape Town, and also did they estimate to derive that R325m and how did the R120m shortfall set it?

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“The project stood still for a very long time and that is when this shortfall was identified,” said Frances.

The Trust is to hold a demonstration on the corner of Hanover and Tennant streets and at the Good Hope Centre from 10am to 1pm on Saturday.

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