Cape Town - District Six - from which thousands of families were forcibly removed under apartheid in the 1960s - will have a R65 million community health centre, Premier Helen Zille says.

A handful of families have returned as part of the restitution process.

At a meeting attended by land claimants on Sunday, Zille said the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in District Six would give back land that would be developed.

A “R65m community health centre” would be built in District Six, where “70 000 people had lived”.

“There’s a huge area left of District Six. It’s important that we create an integrated community with business opportunities… without the slum and abuse element. That’s what we want,” said Zille.

Sunday’s meeting, attended by more than 1 000 land claimants, came a day after Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti led a sod-turning ceremony for the next phase of 280 houses to be constructed in District Six.

A second round of claims would proceed once President Jacob Zuma signed an amendment to the Restitution of Land Rights Act, said Sithembele Jara, assistant director for special projects at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Shahied Ajam, chairman of the District Six Working Committee that is to oversee the second round, said: “We expect 5 000 people will make claims. We are verifying and validating their claims. We are looking at their supporting documents, tangible proof that they lived in District Six. Oral evidence will also be accepted.

“Once Zuma has signed the amendment, they will announce the reopening of the land claims unit. Claimants will then go to the land claims office and get verified.”

Bonita Bennet, director of the District Six Museum, said she hoped the second round would move more quickly than the first.

More than 30 years after the last of them were removed from District Six, only 139 families have returned, despite the deadline of February this year that had been set for claimants to do so.

The District Beneficiary and Redevelopment Trust, which for years facilitated the process on behalf of claimants, is no longer part of the process.

It managed the first two phases, in which only 139 houses were built after people lodged claims between 1995 and 1998.

Of the 1 274 claimants who lodged claims, 1 135 have yet to be returned to District Six.

Department spokesman Mtobeli Mxotwa said: “District Six was a mixture of residential and commercial spaces and will essentially return to its original fabric. The business planning is under way.”

Cape Times