After two months of delays, 108 District Six claimants will begin the process of moving back into the area having filed their restitution claims between 1995 and 1998. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
After two months of delays, 108 District Six claimants will begin the process of moving back into the area having filed their restitution claims between 1995 and 1998. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Calls for more transparency as 108 District Six claimants prepare to occupy new homes

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Jun 20, 2021

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NINE years after the last group of District Six claimants were moved back, another 108 will begin the process of moving into their new homes this week.

With the completion of phase three of the District Six housing development, the Land Claims Commission began engaging with the 108 claimants who were successfully allocated homes.

This was after the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Restitution Thoko Didiza announced on Thursday night that the returning of the claimants would take place from June 24 to July 16.

This new group would bring the total of claimants to have received housing from the restitution process to 247 since the completion of the first phase in 2004.

Didiza said more housing units will be further developed in phases to accommodate the remaining claimants. The restitution process is expected to be completed by 2024 with an estimated cost of R1.8 billion.

Concerns have been raised around the transparency of the process by the District Six Working Committee.

“We are particularly concerned about the vulnerable and elderly claimants that we have brought to the department’s attention months ago, who have apparently not been selected. Some are in their 80s, 90s and even 100,” read the organisation’s statement.

Chairperson of the District Six Civic Association Aisha Salie said while the community welcomed the developments, the slow process was disheartening to claimants.

“It would have been nice if they had published the names of those 108 people because this whole process has lacked transparency,” she said.

“That after 27 years only 200-odd claimants have returned to District Six should be embarrassing for them. Some of the people who have been waiting to hear back do not have clarity and these are elderly people. People who are being rejected and don’t know.

“While I have moved back in 2012, I feel sick to my stomach for those who are dying without ever returning. The rightful claimants who were forcefully removed are dying without ever returning to their birthplace.

“The minister might think this is wonderful news but she needs to come down and speak to the claimants, hear their stories and how they are being treated throughout this process. It is heartbreaking.”

Despite a no-show to a meeting of the Western Cape Legislature’s standing committee on human settlements on Friday morning to discuss the District Six restitution programme, the committee’s chairperson Matlhodi Maseko said she welcomed the news.

The department was due to present to the committee their progress in the housing development and the challenges experienced.

“I am pleased that on the eve of their briefing to the committee, Minister Didiza finally announced the handover period for beneficiaries and in the coming weeks will engage with beneficiaries about who might move in,” Maseko said.

“It remains disappointing that the national department continues to disregard the spirit of cooperative governance and ignore the standing committee which represents elected representatives of the Western Cape residents.

“We will continue to apply pressure and request that the (department) brief the committee on its work in District Six.”

On June 29, the City of Cape Town is also expected to hold a virtual public meeting to table a report on the progress made in the spatial vision for District Six.

“The purpose of this spatial plan is to re-establish this once vibrant neighbourhood, to create a sense of belonging and to establish a multicultural community,” said Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Niewoudt.

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