After 14 years the first phase of District Six claimants who paid R60 000 in 2004 for a restitution process that was supposed to be free have still not received their money back.
After they found out that the restitution was free, residents have been battling with the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust who facilitated the process on behalf of the government and requested claimants pay for their houses. Going forward, residents say, they do not want the trust involved any longer.
Phase 1, comprising 24 of the oldest claimants, had to pay R60 000, while Phase 2 claimants had to pay R200 000. Phase 2 claimants have since received their money back, but Phase 1 is still waiting.
At a District 6 meeting in March 2014, then minister of rural affairs and land reform Gugile Nkwinti confirmed that the restitution was free, with no contribution expected from claimants.
Trust chairperson Anwah Nagia said that Phase 1 was under-funded and did not comment on the issue of refunding claimants.
Meanwhile, the Department of Land Reform’s Mashile Mokono said the trust did not act on behalf of the government, hence claimants had to take the matter up with the trust and sue them.
Resident Annie Bam, 95, was born in District Six, but after the forced removals she relocated to Manenberg.
“We didn't know we were supposed to get it for free. We were just told we can move in, if I pay the money. I didn’t have money so I asked my children. My daughter’s husband had his own business so he paid the R62 000 we had to pay.
“I am very disturbed. I don’t want the money for myself. I’ve got family and there are people in need. If I get that money, I will give a 10th to church and the rest to help my grandchildren. A lot of them are in need.”
Resident Fairuz Achmat-Basardien said when her mother had to be restituted, they did not understand the process.
“At that time, in 2004, the houses were ready and they said we are going to need to pay R60 000. We didn't mind because my mom had been waiting. We loaned the money and paid. Then we learnt afterwards that the restitution was free and I was completely livid. How do you tell people this, especially old people.”
Speaking on behalf of the trust, Nagia did not comment on the repayment of Phase 1 claimant contributions. “The first phase was totally under-funded and the state must make good that part of the development. This was only the position of the new minister in Phase 2."
He said the media was being set up to make the trust “look bad”.
The District Six Reference group said they had several meetings with the department and the issue has repeatedly been on the agenda.
Farieda Moosa, from the reference group, said: “The trust says the reason why Phase 1 monies have still not been paid back is because there is a balance outstanding on building construction.
“Government said it's fine, give it proof where the shortfall is, show us the financial report so we can process the money we owe you. To this date, we have sent an invite to the trust, but they didn’t show up.
"It has been a standing item on the agenda to pay back the money of Phase 1 for the last say five years."
The trust has invited all interested parties to a public participation meeting at Trafalgar High School on July 28 at 10am.