Cape Town – This pensioner and his family are being evicted from District Six by the government.
Yusuf Williams, 78, says his family has been forcibly removed from District Six once before, but he won’t allow it again.
“We are not squatters, we own the land. My wife, daughter and the rest of my family are the true owners," he says.
“We cannot and will not be taken from here without a fight."
Last week, the Western Cape High Court ordered that the family vacate the property by the end of March, or be evicted.
This after Rural Development and Land Reform minister Gugile Nkwinti had gone to court, alleging that Yusuf and his wife, Leqa, his daughter, Shahieda Boyes, and her husband, Farouk, have been illegally occupying the house at No.5e in Reform Street since April 2014.
Yusuf, formerly of Kewtown, says they were told by the late Sedick Christians, a trustee of the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust, in 2013, they would be allocated an apartment in District Six following their land claim application.
Christians handed the families the keys 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 minister, in court papers, stated that a detailed paper trail exists for each successful land claim, but that the flat was not allocated to the Williams or Boyes families.
Christians had not been authorised to hand over keys without adhering to the department’s procedure, said Nkwinti.
Judge Van Staden ruled that the families vacate their home by March 31. He said Shahieda Boyes and her husband were offered emergency housing in a relocation area, which they refused.
The families plan to appeal the ruling, and would also approach the Human Rights commission, Shahieda said.
They are being assisted by Khoi-San leader Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, who said the family are legal land claimants.
“It is unbelievable that this government still gets away with this. Everyday, we are faced with insults about land that is ours and our heritage,” she says.
An angry Yusuf said he won’t leave without a fight. “Where must I go now, at this age? Are these people mad? This is my land.”