Mogamat Yusuf Davids, 77, clutched his papers to his chest, and drew a small black book containing phone numbers, the birth dates of his children and the date of his wife’s death from his pocket.
Yesterday was a great day for him, sharing memories with other claimants to homes in District Six.
“I want to speak to anyone who can take me back to District Six,” he said, circulating among the 100 people who had come to see an exhibition yesterday of what the new District Six could look like if the final plans are approved by public process.
Some were clutching walking sticks, holding all their claimant documents to prove their right to the land.
Within an hour of the District Six Redevelopment pubic participation exhibition opening at Trafalgar High School yesterday more than 100 people, mostly claimants, eagerly came to get the full details of the plan to restore the area.
Davids said his wife was the original claimant to their house in Chapel Street. He also held on to about four pages, his letter inviting him to the exhibition and others proving his claim had been verified.
Pointing to his claim document he said: “That’s where I am going back to, Chapel Street. My children were born here. I just want to move back and die here.”
Claimants registered and read a selection of posters that explained the history and future plans to finally restore the area which was bulldozed more than 40 years ago.
The first poster read: “District Six at a glance… by February 2015 all verified restitution claimants will be home.”
There were murmurs of hope reading that date but there was also some apprehension as people have grown tired of waiting.
Holding his walking stick and looking at a model of the area, Mogamat Benjamin, 54, said: “There is progress, we are happy that we can finally see it. Too many people have died waiting to go back.”
While some people have objected and cannot afford to pay the R250 000 contribution to their three-bedroom homes worth just over R1 million, Benjamin said he would do what he had to, as long as he returned to the area.
“I will never give up on coming back here, even if I must come back when I am 100 years old. I was born here, I played here as a small child and I miss the harmony, the carnivals and the everyday lives we lived,” Benjamin said.
* The exhibition runs everyday at Trafalgar High School from 10am to 8pm till Thursday, and from 9am to 12pm on Friday. Here people can see all the plans and complete public comment forms.
* The second part of the public comment phase will involve broader consultation with individual claimants and groups representing claimants. This phase will run from December 12-15 and throughout January.
* A website with all the information is also up and running on
www.districtsix.za.org - Cape Times