CLOCK TICKING: Yusef Williams
Cape Town - As an 80-year-old man faces being evicted from his flat in District Six, residents there have accused the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust of corruption.

“The problem is that the government should not have left District Six in the hands of the trust because they left the trust to their own devices,” District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said. 

He said that “mistake” was an indication of corruption within the trust.

On Tuesday, the Cape Argus reported that Yusef Williams, 80, and his wife and children would be evicted from his flat in Reform Street by Saturday because the government said he had taken occupation of his home illegally, even though he is a land claimant.

Williams was evicted from District Six 45 years ago through the apartheid Group Areas Act.

“This mistake lies with the trust, which gave them that flat; there is too much bureaucracy and someone should challenge the trust,” Ajam said.

Williams told the Cape Argus that in 2013 he and his family were told by the late Sedick Christians, a trustee of the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust, they would be allocated an apartment in District Six following their land claim application. 

Christians handed them the keys to the home in April 2014 at the District Six community offices, and they moved in.

However, on May 23, 2014, they were informed by officials from the Land Claims Commission that they were illegally occupying the flat, and told to vacate the property. 

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, in court papers, stated that a detailed paper trail existed for each successful land claim, but that the flat had not been allocated to Williams.

“What purpose has the trust fulfilled? They have failed the people of District Six for too long - they have got away with this. And I’m sure there are more cases like Yusef’s,” Ajam said.

Khoisan leader Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said she was aware of several people who said they had received keys from the trust.

“The silence of the trust shows there are irregularities; they have abused their role extensively and we want a forensic audit to take place,” Kleinhans-Cedras said. 

She said the trust owned the building where Williams lived and could evict tenants.

She said she and members of the community would hold a meeting on Williams’ pending eviction and plan a way forward.

The core responsibility of the trust, formed in 1998, is to protect the rights of the beneficiaries of land claims.

The trust has disputed claims that it was behind the eviction. “I was very angry when some people suggested that the trust was behind the eviction; we don’t have the mandate to carry something like that out.

“We are also trying to get a petition going to try to convince the government to allow Mr Williams to stay,” chairperson of the trust Anwah Nagia said.

Nagia said the allegations of corruption within the trust had no foundation. “Those are blatant lies and we are prepared to sue them (District Six Working Committee).”

Cape Argus