HISTORIC WALK: Scores of people gathered at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre to take part in a walk of remembrance to mark 52 years since the forced removals of District Six.  Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
HISTORIC WALK: Scores of people gathered at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre to take part in a walk of remembrance to mark 52 years since the forced removals of District Six. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

WATCH: Walk for justice in District Six commemoration

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Feb 12, 2018

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Cape Town - Dozens of former District Six residents took to the streets of the area to commemorate 52 years since their forced removal from their homes.

One such resident was Asa Alexander, aged just 8 when she and her six sisters and brother were forced to leave.

“Everything was beautiful back then and we were sad when we were forced out,” Alexander said on Sunday. “The front door was always open and you could always smell coffee when you came into our house.”

Alexander and her family were moved to Heideveld, where she still lives today.

“There wasn’t that joyfulness anymore, like you didn’t know the neighbours and you couldn’t play there because you didn’t know the area,” she said.

On February 11, 1966, the apartheid government declared District Six a “whites-only” area under the Group Areas Act of 1950.

It was an emotional day for those who had spent their entire lives there.

On Sunday, many former residents, religious leaders and executives of District Six Museum attended the walkabout.

“The significance of this event is that we remember the time it was declared a whites-only area and people have held on to that significance to commit themselves to restitution and justice,” District Six Museum director Bonita Bennet said.

She told the Cape Argus that there was deep concern that private companies had taken material from the area.

She also said that District Six should be declared a national heritage site: “We are planning to re-engage with the national heritage agency because we have followed all the correct legal steps to find out what the blockage is. At the same time, we want to escalate the public call for the campaign.”

Prominent Judge Siraj Desai, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, said land restitution had not taken place.

“I have been involved in the campaign to preserve District Six since the late seventies and it’s been a tortured process we want restitution and we want to stop the encroachment of developments, and keep the various people at bay who want to develop on the property,” Judge Desai said.

District Six was named the sixth district of Cape Town in 1867 and slaves, merchants, labourers and immigrants lived there. Under the apartheid regime, over 60000 residents were forcibly removed in the 1970s. Today, it lies between Walmer Estate, Zonnebloem and Lower Vrede.

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Cape Argus

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