Anna Manuel longs to return to District Six for her children's sake and to give them a better life. Picture: Tracey Adams

Cape Town – A Belhar grandmother has a longing to return to District Six for her children’s sake, to give them a better life instead of “being cooped up in Belhar”, part of the Cape Flats.

Anna Andries Manuel, mother of 12 children and grandmother to 27, said she had lived happily at 31 Virginia Street in District Six until 1980, when her family were forcibly removed by trucks to Belhar Extension 13.

For Manuel, living side by side with all people, “whites on the one side and blacks on the other”, was the best thing about living in District Six because they all treated each other and their cultures with respect.

“Where I came from there was respect. People came from all over. There the people didn’t say they came from this country or that country. You didn’t have to know where they came from, they were all just human beings."

“We called our neighbours 'uncle' and 'aunt'. They respected us and we respected them."

"If we went to the shop for the neighbours, we did not accept money as a reward, out of respect,” said Manuel.

 In front of her house are people Anna Manuel knew as Robert, Aunty Ruby and a friend. Picture: Tracey Adams

She could not understand why she had not been given a key to a restitution house in District Six yet, when she had been to all the meetings and gone to the claims office several times.

When the Cape Argus enquired about the status of Manuel’s claim, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) spokesperson Vuyani Nkasayi requested that all claimants contacting the newspaper be referred to the project officer working on District Six claims.

He said 2 670 claims had been submitted before the first deadline of December 31, 1998, of which 1 439 claims had been settled, while 236 owners and 890 tenants had chosen to be part of the District Six Redevelopment.

Of the 1 126 District Six returnee families, 139 had been accommodated in phases 1 and 2 restitution houses and apartments.

The 108 phase 3 units were currently being built, with 20 houses scheduled to be completed by July, said Nkasayi.

“When I went to the meetings, I told Nomaliza (DRDLR) claims officer that I was not interested in money. All I wanted is a place for my children. We sleep four or five in a room in this small house, and that is very unhealthy,” said Manuel.

Manuel said she told the claims officer she was not lodging a claim for herself but for her daughters, so that they could be close to work opportunities and live in better social conditions.

Cape Argus