It’s been a 22 year long wait, but finally, some families who uprooted from their homes in Protea Village, will soon return to their rightful land. 86 claimant families have been handed back their land following a lengthy restitution process, which started in 1995. These families are part of a larger group who were removed from the land between 1966 and 1969 under the apartheid Group Areas Act, some who chose financial compensation instead of land.
Addressing claimants on the land on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Patricia De Lille said this restitution project had been a key priority for the City of Cape Town administration.
“While this is a day of celebration, in all honestly it is really sad for me to know that the families in front of me today have waited so many years to return to their land. I especially think of Mrs Francis Gussling, known as Aunty Hatta, who sadly passed away in 2008 at the age of 99. She was moved from this land to Lotus River. She never had the chance to return home,” she told the audience.
“Two years ago, Mr Alexander September, Uncle Al, passed away at the age of 89 and he too will never return home. He was moved to a Council flat in Grassy Park.
“I am relieved to know that both Aunty Hatta and Uncle Al had stated in their wills which family members have access to their claim. This will ensure that members of those families can live on this land that was so wrongfully taken from their elders.
“Claimants, I know your one wish is to move into your homes on this land. It has been a long road and your hopes have been raised many times, but we are forging ahead to ensure that the rightful owners return to their land.”
One of the claimants Pearl Rohde speaks about her childhood upbringing in Protea village, a life she recalls as being simple and beautiful.
In 2006, the National Government, the City and claimant community signed a memorandum of agreement in which the City agreed to transfer 8,5 hectares of the land to the claimants at no cost. Today this land is valued at approximately R100 million.
The City assisted with all planning and legislative tasks related to the resettlement of the claimant community such as the subdivision process which has been concluded.
The fight for their land was not an easy one. The claimants had to deal with two legal challenges from the Fernwood and Bishops Court residents. In 2011 the court ruled in favour of the claimants and the processes to return to their land could recommence.
The Department of Land Affairs appointed a service provider, Bethel Partners, to assist the claimants with the community development plans. There are plans to build 86 residential properties for the claimant families, an education facility, sports grounds, and residential units for the open market that will cross-subsidise the cost of the claimants’ homes.
Mrs Nomdu, who is in her 80’s said she’s ecstatic to return back to their rightful home.
De Lille said it was her hope that each family can complete their story on a positive note.
“For those who are here as representatives of your parents or grandparents who are no longer with us, keep carrying their flame and pressing on this journey knowing that they will be proud that members of their family will be back home here in Bishop’s Court.” VOC