District Six claimants demand answers
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District Six claimants have expressed concerns over crucial aspects of the government's redevelopment process, and have appealed for transparency.
In a letter through legal representatives, Norton Rose Fulbright to the state attorney, the claimants urged the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to share information on how it intended to plug an envisaged financial shortfall for the redevelopment.
This was despite the most recent report that indicated that the department had sufficient funding, regardless of whether the City of Cape Town would be able to contribute to the bulk earthworks.
The move by the District Six Working Group, which represents the claimants, followed a quarterly progress report by the department and a statement issued on Wednesday which advised that 108 housing units being built as part of the current phase 3, would be handed to claimants once they were completed.
The houses were for those who lodged claims between 1995 and 1998.
The department said the construction process had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The District Six Working Group said in the letter: “We note that the department has committed a total of R351 million to the redevelopment of District Six and the estimated budget is R1.87 billion at present.
“There is no indication of how this shortfall will be made up. We note that previous reports have indicated funding will be sourced from internal sources (the Human Settlements Development Grant, the Urban Settlement Development Grant and Geotech Variation) as well as external pools,” the letter said.
The claimants acknowledged that an Inter-Governmental Technical Steering Committee held a meeting on March 18, to discuss the framework for funding the redevelopment.
“We would like to request the minutes of this meeting in the hope they might shed light on our concerns over funding,” they said.
It further sought clarity on the final list of the 108 claimants for phase 3, when it would be published and whether those who applied for a special allocation were interviewed by a panel and whether there was a process for appeals for unsuccessful claimants.
“We presume that the units in each phase will be allocated shortly before construction is complete in order to ensure that the department has the most recent claimant information on hand,” they said.
The claimants also wanted to know if any further unexpected delays in the restitution process would affect the May 3 construction completion date as specified by the department's latest report.
"Furthermore, we request clarity in relation to the units which will form part of the 25% earmarked for claimants who fall within the three special categories, namely, the indigent, the infirm and elderly," the claimants said in the letter.
Other areas of concern highlighted in the letter included the need to timeously settle the conceptual layout or unit design and the need to finalise the appointment of a built environment team.
The Working Committee said although the unit design was accepted by the District 6 Reference Group (D6RG) as well as the department, the claimants would have to be notified of the final design.
“Save for noting the need for disability-friendly housing to be available in each phase, our client supports the unit design,” the lawyers’ letter noted.
“Our client remains committed to working with your client (department) in order to see claimants in District Six obtain speedy and equitable restitution. We look forward to receiving your client’s next report due on 17 June 2021,” the letter concluded .
The Department's spokesperson, Vuyani Nkasayi, said although he did not speak on behalf of the state attorney, his department remained committed to the redevelopment of District Six.
"We appeal to the claimants not to lose hope. There are ongoing discussions to ensure that claimants are resettled back. The criteria in allocation of the housing unit will take into account the prioritisation of the aged, disabled and the indigent,“ Nkasayi said.