“Down with the DA” were the chants of angry District Six claimants at a protest outside the Cape Town Civic Centre on Wednesday. The demonstrators demanded Mayor Patricia de Lille address them on the land claims process but the mayor was a no-show.
Hundreds of people marched to the civic centre to protest the slow pace of land restitution. Former District six residents participating in the protest said that they “want their houses back in District Six” referring to the forced removals, from the area, that took place during the Apartheid era.
The claimants, most of them elderly fear never returning back to the historical area. The pensioners stood in the hot midday sun, some in wheelchairs, shouting slogans calling for the Mayor to be held accountable for the failure of the land restitution process.
“They chucked us out and it is our right to get it back, we want the land and the house,” one protesting former resident said whilst walking with the crowd of people.
“We have been waiting for over 20 years for our land, why won’t the government give it back to us,” Julaiga Abdul, another former resident added.
Outside the civic centre, protestors called on the executive Mayor to make an appearance and receive the memorandum of grievances from the District six working committee. However, Mayor De Lille was out of the office at another event and representative Wilfred Solomon-Johannes was sent to address a visibly upset crowd and to accept the memorandum of demands.
Shahied Ajam, chairperson of the District Six Working Committee said that it was insulting to him and to the protestors that the mayor was unavailable to speak to the protestors as she was notified about the protest a week ago.
“She (the mayor) has made it clear that she does not respect us, she does not respect the people in the township, she does not respect their plight and our next step would be the courts and parliament,” Ajam continued.
“The City of Cape Town has been selling off land, we definitely won’t stand for it, and today is just the start of many things to come.”
Many people made a point of saying that they will not be voting for the DA in the local government elections.
“We put the mayor in her position and we can take her out, down with the DA,” protestors chanted.
After threatening to camp outside the mayor’s office, the crowd dispersed due to heat and exhaustion. They however noted that they will make their presence felt again. VOC (Umarah Hartley)