District Six claimants on Saturday expressed their frustration at authorities with the slow progress of the housing development by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform at the Multi-purpose Hall at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). The meeting raised many issues including progress of development and equity.
Hundreds of claimants sat in on a meeting that they feel has a recurring problem of producing no results. Both sides played the blaming game accusing the other of not doing enough to make restitution a reality.
“Claimants talk too much and they don’t want to act. Progress is slow for my liking,” said Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti.
Many people felt that the government is making empty promises and creating ideals of false hope into their minds. Most of these people are elderly people who are reaching the end of their lives. Some have passed on waiting for housing.
“There are constant meetings but nothing happens. Meeting after meeting we come and nothing. People are aging, they have to crawl because they so old to get the key. Maybe I must also crawl to get my key. The one man was 93 when he got his house. 93! They keep saying we are going to get houses but it never happens,” said 77 year old, Ebrahim Jabaar.
Most of the beneficiaries live in the suburbs and transport to the meetings is timeous and costly.
“The meeting starts at 11.30 and they are not here. They are always late. Don’t they take us seriously? Most of the people have to travel as from as far as Mitchell’s Plain and they don’t have the money to do so,” said 65 year old Albert Hess.
“I moved to Garlandale from District Six. People have been coming here for decades and they hear the same thing. I want to hear what the deadlines are, how they are going to allocate houses to people, when, where, and why it is taking so long. People are dying off. Are they waiting until everyone is dead before they become serious about all of this. What has happened to the money that has been allocated in the past?” he asked.
“I was moved from District Six to Hanover Park. I have come to all the meetings and nothing has happened. I want to hear that I am going to get my house. I’m very unhappy…I have been waiting 30 years for a house,” said Mr N Baradien (75).
There were differences of opinion amongst claimants, which led to a drawn out consultative process on key issues. This in turn frustrated government officials.
“It is time that we get to a conclusion now regarding the journey of District Six. We must find a way so we can move forward and compromise otherwise we won’t have progress and we’ll be here again next year,” said deputy-mayor Ian Neilson.
Four key issues were cleared up by resolutions reached by a vote. The claimants agreed that they wanted a CPA over a trust. The Communal Property Association (CPA) involves a committee representinf the community for more clarity and awareness on issues regarding housing development.
Claimants will receive full title deeds instead of sectional, and everyone will be restituted in an equitable but proportional manner. Tenants and owners were differentiated and told that they can only be compensated in a proportional way.
“We are not differentiating in an unequal sense but a proportional and just way that you have lost,” said Minister Nkwinti.
Claimants were promised housing the size of 72 to 90 metres. This is double the size of regular RDP housing. People were either going to get back the land they lost, given alternative housing or be compensated for what they have lost. They were guaranteed that they will be allocated a house and that there is space for everyone.
“All of you are going to get back to District Six and all of you are going to get a basic house,” reassured Nkwinti, as the crowd applauded.
People remain frustrated and divided. However this frustration was not only expressed inside but outside CPUT.
There was a picket being held by some late claimants of a group called the District Six Working Commitee (D6WC) calling for equal treatment and to stop the building of the tecknikon. These people were not invited to the meeting and as a result they could not enter. It was brought to their attention that they had to register in order to sit in on the meeting.
“The minister promised me that each and every resident regardless if they were late claimants could come to the meeting. We must wait until land claims reopen and call a meeting. Now you cannot enter unless you have registered in 1998. The majority of these people have been waiting for 20 years. Are we not part of them now because we have registration numbers but we cannot go in,” said Sharifa Davids (55).
Their concern is if the technikon continues to build on the land, there will be less space for District Six homes. Another was that unwanted residents were residing on the property leaving the claimants unable to occupy the land that was entitled to them. Lastly that people were being compensated in a lengthy procedure where little or no houses are being built.
“Here the technikon is building. What ground is going to be left for District Six people? They say tell the people to take the money. They’re taking away the people’s dignity by paying them off. So that people don’t take the houses. All the late claimants will start putting shacks up because if others can do it, we can. I am sick of the slow progress,” says Davids.
The Department had said they would consult the D6 Working Committee but they failed to do so.
“They said the process was going to be transparent and that this time they would consult the community. The vice chancellor said they consulted the community but they did not consult us, we are 1500 people. We want to know what community they were talking about. We are also concerned about the two unwanted residents that are occupying land in the District Six area. We are a big group why are we being excluded,” said the director of the District Six Working Committee, Rashieda Samaai.
“We all suffered. Why should we differentiate?,” added another picketer Abdul Ragmaan. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)