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Condolences pour in for oldest District Six claimant

The oldest District 6 claimants, Aunty Shariefa Khan, 100 has died. Seated next to her the late chairman of the District 6 Working Committee Shahied Ajam. Photo: Wardah Wilkinson

The oldest District 6 claimants, Aunty Shariefa Khan, 100 has died. Seated next to her the late chairman of the District 6 Working Committee Shahied Ajam. Photo: Wardah Wilkinson

Published Jan 26, 2022


THE family of District Six’s oldest claimant Shariefa Khan say they have accepted their mother’s passing who died without getting her home.

Khan, 100, died in the early hours of Wednesday morning after experiencing breathing difficulties and was buried in accordance with Muslim rights in Elsies River.

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Her eldest daughter Nadiema Khan, told Weekend Argus while the family is sad, they had been anticipating this.

“We have accepted it, we knew it was coming,” she said.

“We are sad but contented. She was a little tired in her final days.”

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Social media has been flooded with messages of condolences to the Khan family as news of her passing spread.

Khan died just three months shy of her 101 birthday on April 25 which would have coincided with the one year anniversary since she signed papers to receive her new home in District Six as part of the land restitution process.

However, she and other claimants who were supposed to move into the houses, had been waiting for the national government to fix safety concerns and defects in the building before moving in.

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The son of another elderly claimant expressed anger and frustration at the news of Khan' death.

"Some of the claimants are old and frail. They suffered degradation when they were forcibly moved out of District Six by the apartheid government, and now under this new government they may not even experience restitution.

"My mother, Mavis Alexander, is 82 years old. Now I fear that she might also suffer the same fate as (Mrs) Khan. It's really frustrating for the claimants. What we thought might be a possibility has become a reality,'' said Jeff Alexander.

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Khan was born on 25 April 1921 in Vryburg, North West and her family moved to Cape Town when she was seven years old where they settled in Muizenberg and later Kensington. She later married Dawood Khan, an Indian migrant living in District Six where the family settled before they were forcefully removed in the 1960s.

Spokesperson for the District Six Working Committee, Karen Breytenbach urged the national government to speed up the restitution process.

"We thank Khan for fighting the good fight until the end and supporting our court case which will bring restitution to many families like hers,“ she said.

In September, the Lawyers for the District Six claimants requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Land Reform, Thoko Didiza, following several delays with the restitution process.

The 108 claimants were told they would move into the new homes in by March, but due to several delays and a process which was described by the claimants as "not transparent", none have moved into the flats to date.

Breytenbach said at the time: "The delays over the past year are not only holding up other parties and parts of the greater restitution process, but are causing grave, repeated distress to the already traumatised claimant community.

Dozens of claimants had died over the past few years without setting foot in the promised new flats.

According to the DC Working Committee they included Sharief Solomon, couple Catherine and Cyril Wagner, Mariam Mosaval, Shafiek April, Ebrahim Jabaar, Mogamat Ladien Petersen, Mogamat "Kafunta" Benjamin and Yahya Johnson.

In 2020, a member of the District Six Working Committee, who had championed the cause for claimants, Shahied Ajam also died.

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