File photo: Ross Jansen/African News Agency (ANA).

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato on Wednesday welcomed the decision that will see District Six revert to its original, historic name after decades of being called Zonnebloem.

"The approval of Zonnebloem to reclaim its original name of District Six is part of restoring the identity of the neighbourhood and gives a measure of closure for former residents who were forcefully removed from the area decades ago," Plato said.

He said the decision, which has now been gazetted after it was announced by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday, was another step towards restoring the dignity of those who lived in the historic neighbourhood on the edge of the city, before their forced removal by the apartheid regime.

"This is another milestone in restoring District Six after the Cape Town city council approved the name change of Keizergracht to the original Hanover Street in August." 

Plato said the city remained committed to supporting the restitution process in District Six and in that regard welcomed the redevelopment plan submitted by land reform minister Thoko Didiza to the land claims court."

"We hope this will speed up the process of restitution, after many delays, for the hundreds of claimants still waiting to return to the area.

The plan submitted by Didiza is being studied by the District Six Working Committee, who took the national government to the Land Claims Court on behalf of claimants seeking restitution. The court had given the minister until December 15 to submit a plan, and then extended this deadline to the 17th.

Some 2,760 former residents and relatives submitted claims to the Commission on Reconstitution of Land Rights.

District Six was declared a "whites-only" area by the apartheid regime in 1966 and from 1968, some 60,000 residents were evicted to the Cape Flats.

African News Agency (ANA)