District Six 'master plan' to be unveiled
Cape Town - Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti is looking at a master plan for District Six which would involve building 260 units over two years - but he still needs the buy-in of the community about the design.
Nkwinti, who on Thursday attended the 50-year commemoration of District Six being declared a white group area, said he would be meeting with the community next month to discuss the plan which he believes should involve building extra levels.
He said the area had shrunk considerably in 50 years and many people still wanted to return.
“A lot of infrastructure has been built here. There is a university and other businesses, and it means that the land space is small.
“And there are now two generations of people so the number has multiplied.”
Nkwinti said although District Six was among the first land claims in the country to be prioritised after the passing of the Restitution of Land Rights Act in 1994, it had proven to be among the most complex claims to settle.
“A combination of factors - including differences of opinion on the redevelopment master plan within the claimant group, and among the various spheres of government - have caused lengthy delays,” he said.
To date, only 139 units have been built.
Nkwinti said the District Six Reference group was worried about building too many floors because most of the claimants were old and would battle to access them.
He said they would need to agree that the first two floors be allocated to old people.
Phase 3, which will involve the building of 108 residential apartments, is currently under way, but there is frustration it has taken so long.
Nkwinti said he was ready to go up two more floors on phase 3, which would provide an additional 40 units over and above what was being built.
He said it could be done if agreement was reached: “We can solve the problem and build the houses as quickly as possible.”
District Six Museum director Bonita Bennett, speaking at the commemoration at the District Six Homecoming Centre, said there had been frustration from claimants. “There are many people who, through whatever reason, are not able to claim.
“They have chosen not to claim,.
“Maybe the family was fragmented by forced removals, maybe they took financial compensation and in hindsight it was not the best thing to do.”
She said she wanted to honour and remember them and to acknowledge that they were still living lives of displacement.
Bennett said people had lost jobs and had their children’s schooling interrupted when they were forcibly removed.
“All the resentment and hurt is still part of people’s lives.”