RURAL Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, right, in court. Restitution claimants said they were left even deeper in the dark. Marvin Charles
Cape Town - District Six restitution claimants are even deeper in the dark about when they will move into the area following Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s testimony in court last week.

District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said: “The minister was unable to confirm a date as to when the applicants in the matter could expect restitution. As a result, the applicants still have no idea as to when they will receive their homes in District Six.”

He said the order to compel the minister to come to court represented an acknowledgement of the injustice suffered by the claimants as a result of having to wait 20 years for restitution to be effected and therefore the need to resolve this matter expeditiously.

“At the conclusion of Friday's high court proceedings we were left with no doubt in our minds that the court will indeed find the minister guilty of contempt of court for not delivering the plan as previously ordered, and furthermore that a declaratory order would accompany the ruling,” Ajam said.

On Friday, the minister reiterated that her department alone could not bear the cost of redevelopment.

Nkoana-Mashabane expressed regret that the order was not “fully complied with”.

She said her department could only afford R351 million a year for District Six, while redevelopment would eventually cost R11 billion, of which R2.4bn would be needed to provide housing for the 1 000 remaining claimants.

Nkoana-Mashabane asked for a further “three months plus” in which she would report back to court. But she was heckled in the courtroom, packed mostly with elderly claimants.

Many other District Six claimant groups have voiced their concerns after the minister's testimony on Friday.

Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, chairperson of the District Six Advocacy Group said: “It's clear that the issue of District Six is not a priority for the minister and she is totally incompetent. It has also become a reality that there is no way that those claimants of 1994 will be accommodated. It's honestly so frustrating.”

She said it was time that claimants mobilised. “It’s getting to the point where claimants have to become more radical in their approach.”

District Six Reference Group chairperson Gerald Elliott was also in court on Friday and said the minister struggled a lot to answer basic questions properly. “She didn't give any kind of assurance to residents. I suppose the issue of funding the development is a start and she does say that her department has no money.”

Dr Anwah Nagiah from the District Six Beneficiary Trust also said the minister was not prepared to answer questions. “We will not let the government off the hook. District Six helped shape the discourse in this country. I have hope that we will return to District Six but there needs to be more effort from the government.”


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Cape Argus