D6 claimants demand end to development
Cape Town - Seventy-four-year-old Amien Jannicke was one of the more than 200 District Six land claimants who marched to the offices of mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday, demanding an end to development in the place they once called home.
The group, which comprised old and young people, sang while marching as they prepared to hand over a memorandum of grievances to De Lille.
Jannicke, who now lives in Mitchells Plain, said the treatment he received when he and his family were removed in 1980 was brutal.
“We were evicted like animals and as a result I have become poorer since leaving District Six. I had to worry about travelling expenses for the whole of my family which was not the case before.
“I had to buy new furniture because the ones I owned wouldn’t fit in the new house.”
”My mother became paralysed when she heard we were being moved, and she didn’t want to be moved. She died in District Six.”
“Today’s government is treating us the same way the apartheid government treated us.
“They are not coming to the party to help solve this situation we see ourselves in now.
“They are selling our land and if nothing happens we’ll build shacks on the land.”
Demands listed on the memorandum included
the verification and validation of past and present claimants; retrieving lost land in District Six; suitable alternate land and “saving” the Good Hope Centre.
Another former District Six resident, Cyril Wagner, 92, said, he was moved to Steenberg.
“It felt very bad when we were moved, because all religions lived together in one place and everything was cheap because we didn’t have to pay for transport, and life changed tremendously for us. I want my wife and I to go back to where we were born.”
The city council’s Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, who received the memorandum on behalf of the mayor, acknowledge they would respond to it.
”We’ve engaged with the people before and they are knocking on the wrong door.
“We have released all the land in District Six to the national government.
“The mayor has established a committee to fast-track the process.”
“We won’t let narrow-minded people drive their political agendas leading up to the elections.”
Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said: “Substantial progress has been delayed due to the impact of various special interest groupings, including that of the District Six Working Committee which has been a partner in public engagement.
“It is now time to stop driving narrow agendas and do what is right for the broader community.”
”The city council, provincial government, and the department of Rural Development and Land (Reform) have stood together in our joint determination to see the development of District Six proceed as soon as possible.”
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesman Vuyani Nkasayi said: “We’ll only comment once we’ve seen the contents of the memorandum. It was handed over to the city council not to us.
“We can’t comment at the moment.”