Cape Town – The City has cancelled a tree-planting event in District Six, after objections from three civic groups.
Following a public meeting on the local spatial development framework for District Six last week, the District Six Museum, District Six Civic Association and the District Six Reference Group said they opposed the plan for trees to be planted in the area.
The City mooted a plan for a tree-planting ceremony to take place today, but the groups opposed it – saying the City should focus its resources on the restitution of the area.
The District Six Museum’s acting director, Chrischene Julius, said as the stakeholders in the process, they did not entirely object to the beautification of the District Six site for returnees.
“These initiatives are key to creating an environment that welcomes returnees to a landscape that often feels alien, having left nearly 52 years ago.
’’The objections we raise lie in the practicality of a symbolic tree planting on a designated site, where no claimants have settled and which is far removed from a historic and existing District Six community spread over the Chapel Street area, which is in dire need of social services support and attention. We urge the City to divert its resources to supporting the restitution process,” said Julius.
Chairperson of the District Six Civic Association Asa Salie said: “There is no rush to plant trees now, but to have trees planted simultaneously with phases of people moving in.
“The streets chosen for the ceremony, being Lymington Terrace and Constitution Street, are where people took over the homes and land of the dispossessed people of District Six.
“The process is absent and that’s what needs to happen so that there is input from all claimants.”
Mayoral Committee member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said: “The tree planting event was planned in line with Arbour Month, and to focus attention and build excitement on the recently initiated Local Spatial Development Framework approach for District Six.
“It was decided to rather not have the tree planting ceremony, given the objections of the organisations, in an attempt to build a common understanding and agreement on the actions and events going forward.”