After years of discussion around the availability of land for District Six claimants, members of the District Six Working Committee (D6WC) recently met with local land claims commissioner, David Smit, and in response is hosting an urgent public meeting.
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, chairperson of D6WC, Shahied Ajam explains that the commission is currently processing conceptual plans for the future District Six for the remaining hectares of land within the area, which the D6WC’s independent land audit estimated to be less than 42 hectares, a figure originally provided by the commission.
He says that the commission has indicated that the new plans will accommodate all old claimants, standing at approximately 1200, who claimed between 1995 and 1998. It will subsequently further accommodate as many new claimants as possible, who claimed from July 2014 when the restitution process reopened.
“That window has been closed for the new claimants and now they must wait. The [City] is going to get as many claimants as possible into less than 40 hectares,” he added.
Given the lack of remaining District Six land, Ajam asserts that the commission indicated that no alternate space is available to accommodate excess claimants and that the alternate option will be for claimants to accept the monetary restitution of approximately R100 000.
“Restitution has been going on for the last16 years and people were lied to and given half-baked housing developments.”
“On the corner of Kaizergracht & Tenant Streets there are those two glaring bill boards advertising a private developer [showing] apartment units going up for R1.5 million and R3.7 million – isn’t that an insult to the people’s dignity?” he noted.
He asserts that the development company in question, Dogon Group Properties, bought the property ten years ago and, therefore, says that District Six advocacy bodies should have questioned why claimants have been allocated only 42 hectares of land.
Ajam further questions the role of the various District Six advocacy bodies, such as the Reference Group and the District Six Beneficiary Trust, asking what their roles have been in ensuring the protection of the rights of claimants.
“When the vice chancellor of CPUT [Cape Peninsula University of Technology] made his keynote speech at our walk on Heritage Day, he apologized and said that ten years ago they took a decision to expand CPUT, including student residences, and that he today regrets that they took that decision, because they were unmindful of the degradation of people’s lives [in District Six] and is prepared to talk to us about the future of District Six,” he elaborated.
He, therefore, urged all District Six claimants to stand firm and ensure that their right to dignity is restored.
The meeting will be hosted on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 10:00am to 12:00pm and is scheduled to take place at the District Six Working Committee’s Hall in Chapel Street.
“Immediately after the meeting, we will hold a mass demonstration and sit-in until the mayor herself comes to intervene – buy back that land from Dogon Properties and give it to the people of District Six, because that land is in the proclamation,” Ajam continued.