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Minister accused in court of 'playing hide-and-seek' over District Six restitution

Former Rural Development and Land Reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Former Rural Development and Land Reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 6, 2020

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Cape Town – In a baffling unfolding of court proceedings involving the District Six restitution process, former Rural Development and Land Reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who was found to be personally liable for costs associated with the case, was nowhere mentioned in appeals papers yesterday, in a case she is apparently said to have brought against the State.

Instead, current minister Thoko Didiza was cited as appealing Nkoana-Mashabane’s personal costs order, for reasons not even the State attorney could explain.

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Who is paying for the case is unclear and this led to Acting Judge of the Land Claims Court Thembeka Ngcukaitobi to question yesterday whether it was a “transparent strategy to make the taxpayer” foot the bill.

“Didiza has nothing to do with the case, why is the application from her?” Judge Ngcukaitobi asked.

Nkoana-Mashabane is currently the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities.

Judge Ngcukaitobi asked

her counsel, Advocate Hellen Ngomane, several times to tell

the court who was paying for

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the litigation, but she could not provide answers.

Lawyers representing the District Six Working Committee were left stunned, with Advocate Geoff Budlender charging Nkoana-Mashabane wanted a “free ride” on behalf of taxpayers.

“This is a gross abuse by the minister,” Budlender said, adding that it was costing more to have the matter dragged on.

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“It’s a mess,” he said.

The matter before the Western Cape High Court yesterday related to an April 2019 ruling in which the court rejected Nkoana-Mashabane’s request for more time to present a plan to get District Six land claimants back into the historic area.

The court also ordered Nkoana-Mashabane to personally account for her and her department’s failure to abide by a previous order to present a plan detailing a conceptual layout for the redevelopment of District Six.

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She was also held liable for the costs of the application.

After an adjournment yesterday Ngomane could still not answer who was paying for the litigation

Judge Ngcukaitobi then ordered that Nkoana-Mashabane file an affidavit, within seven days, answering whether the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities was paying for the case, and that she indicate whether she was appealing the case in her personal capacity.

“These people have waited 25 years for restitution.

“She is playing hide-and-seek with taxpayers’ money,” said Judge Ngcukaitobi.

Cape Times

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