We might die before moving back to District Six says frustrated claimant

Beneficiaries of the District Six phase three development have expressed their frustration with persistent delays. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA

Beneficiaries of the District Six phase three development have expressed their frustration with persistent delays. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA

Published Sep 19, 2021


AN 82-year-old District Six claimant fears that she might die before she moves back home to District Six as the restitution project is marred by more delays.

Mavis Alexander is among 108 claimants whose hopes were raised when in mid-June when the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform announced that homes would be allocated and beneficiaries would be able to move in by July 24.

Heritage Day, September 24, will be exactly two months since claimants were meant to have occupied their homes. This is the fourth delay after the department had first indicated March, then April and then May, as a completion date.

Her son Jeff Alexander, 60, said his mother’s excitement of viewing her home has been dimmed by endless delays.

“My mother’s biggest fear right now is dying without getting the keys to the home she was promised.

“When the houses were completed she was allowed to go and view her home, we took measurements to fit curtains and everything, but she is still waiting.

“My mother is elderly and suffers from chronic illness and the stress of it all is making it worse. She phones me every day to find out when she can move in. She cries a lot and I have no answers for her.

“We have called, written letters but there is no one who can give us answers. What angers me and a lot of the other claimants is the dishonesty, at first we were told the end of April, then it was May and then July and we’re approaching the end of September, and still nothing,” he said.

Among the claimants is 100-year-old Shariefa Khan who has been patiently awaiting the keys to her home.

On Friday the department was to hand over its quarterly report to the Land Claims Court on progress made in the completion of the project, part of a court-mandated process.

At the last update provided to the court, the department reported a six-week delay to the completion of phase three.

“While building works and the construction of the units have been completed on time, there have been delays associated with the provision of permanent water and electrical supply services to the development.

“These issues were work-shopped with the local municipality, and have since been resolved. The permanent electrical supply to the development and all individual units was switched on, on June 8 2021, and the bulk water connection is currently being finalised. The anticipated final tie-in by the local municipality is planned for the afternoon of June 17, 2021,” read the report.

The District Six Working Committee has since sent lawyers letters to the department, demanding answers to the way forward.

This week the Western Cape Legislature’s standing committee on human settlements resolved to engage with the community of District Six.

“Phase 3 is not the only or the last housing project for District 6, and delays at this site have a knock-on effect for other projects. These delays ultimately deny dignity and justice to residents who have been waiting on the national government to get its house in order,” Matlhodi Maseko, chair of the standing committee on Human Settlement

“We have received communication from residents who have approached the Western Cape Government with the hope that the province may be able to shed some light on the time frames of when they can expect the national government to bring them home. Despite the Standing Committee having invited the national Department multiple times to speak to the people of the Western Cape, they have repeatedly declined the opportunity to give an update on the restitution process,” Maseko said.

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