|Today, 11 February, marks fifty years since District Six had been declared a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act.
The area is a unique space in the Country that The Department of Rural Development and Land reform is currently redeveloping for victims affected by the land dispossession.
To tell us more about the current status of the project VOC spoke to the Spokesperson for the Department of Rural Development, Vuyani Nkasayi.
The District Six land reclaim initiative, as one of the more significant projects of the Department of Rural Develop within the Western Cape, has “not been an easy one.”
This process began in the 1980’s where the people of District Six lost their claims within the Office of the Regional Land Commission.
Nkasayi expressed that the department “recognizes the role that the people of District Six have played, and appreciate their patience.”
The department is currently developing Phase Three of the project, in which 108 apartments will be built.
Nkasayi asserts that this means that the families, agreed to by the representatives of the people of District Six, will move back to District Six.
Previously in Phase One and Two, 139 apartments were built. This project was managed by the District Six Redevelopment Trust.
Phase Three, Nkasayi states, as a Department of Rural Development, is a developer.
“We are very confident that this process will run smoothly,” Nkasayi expressed.
The Minister of Rural Development has stated that as “we are building Phase Three we must plan for the following phase.”
“If it was his wish, all those people that have opted to go back to District Six would go back to District Six as soon as possible,” Nkasayi asserted.
The department has been met with many challenges since the process of land claims began in 1995.
One of the problems incurred is lengthy negotiations. The second problem is administrative processors; a claim is settled in a Section 32D, necessitates that a claim is settled through negotiation. This process has proven to be time consuming.
The third issue is the land, which under the apartheid government was sold to different entities. Reclaiming this land or pieces of land has also proven to be a challenge.
With regard to foreign guests, Nkasay asserts, that claimants need to remain mindful that “the Department does not own the land.” The community forum of District Six therefore needs to deal with these types of issues.
The fact that “people are [also] renting out their apartments”, Nkasayi asserts, is an issue that needs to be dealt with by the District Six Forum.
Issues of gangsterism and violence within District Six have been reported. These issues, Nkasayi says, government is willing to work to eradicate.
“We are currently in the process of doing sectional title deeds; this means that if you own an apartment in District Six, you need to have sectional title deeds that confirms that you own property,” stated Nkasayi.
The Department, Nkasayi asserts, is in the process of finalizing the sectional title deeds, and is therefore in process of transferring the land to the claimants.
“That land belongs to the people of district six,” asserted Nkasayi.
VOC (Thakira Desai)