By Wardah Wilkinson
Activists working towards restitution in District Six are in the process of launching an application to the land claims court to obtain a declaratory order and structural interdict to compel the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform to finish building the houses in District Six within a stipulated time as determined by the court. About 1000 people who were forcefully removed from District Six under the Group Areas Act of 1966 met at the Castle of Good Hope for a meeting with the District Six Working Committee on Saturday to discuss the latest development.
The conference hall in the Castle of Good Hope was filled with elderly former residents from District Six who was forcefully removed and relocated to the Cape Flats. Many travelled by bus and train from gang ridden poverty-stricken areas such as Mitchell’s Plain, Hanover Park, Manenberg, Athlone, Gugulethu, Bishop Lavis, Langa, to support a process for restitution.
The District Six Working Committee started the proceedings by paying a tribute to the mother of the nation in Winnie Madikizela Mandela, by sing the national anthem and explaining why reclaiming their land will be a victory for her struggle.
District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said the committee is pleased with the outcome and it shows how serious the claimants are to be restituted.
“We want to inform the public that District Six is a step closer to becoming a reality. We have just made applications to the land claims court. It was successfully submitted, and we have received a case number, which we will reveal after all the relevant parties have been served at our press conference,” said Ajam.
He explained how the first phase developments has been stopped for some time, but claimants are being informed that work is re-commencing on the site.
“Work is not going on because of the short sightedness of certain individuals; there are no contractors with big machines. Dis net ‘n boetajie met drie werkers wat besig om te bou die 108 flats alleen. They promised the people recently that they will be moving in. There is no infrastructure, no roads…nothing was done by the City of Cape Town,” he said.
The D6WC is trying to assist claimants from the period of 1995 and 1998 who did not make the initial cut off date for land claims, post democracy. Ajam said they have instructed their legal team Norton Rose Fulbright to speed the process to have the entire 42 hectors completed in record time with the cooperation of all parties involved.
“We are not anti any group. With the help of the two previous commissioners, we have been asking them to join us and form a united group to finish District Six. They refused, so we had to take matters into our own hands and take them to court,” he said.
The oldest claimant 84-year old Mariam Daniels from Lavender Hill spoke about how her mother who was ill at that time was forced to move to Handover Park.
“She lived at number 8 Cannon Street. She was really ill and due to the separation my mother was alone and I had to go work in a factory. Due to not having the money to travel weekly back to Somerset Hospital her gangrene spread, her legs was amputated but it was too late. She died a few weeks later and many of her friends and family could not attend as they were spread all over the Cape Flats and there was no way of making contact with them…”
Angry community activist and sewing machine mechanic, Mr Salie Davids who was forcefully removed from Hanover Street to Hanover Park, expressed his anger at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the City of Cape Town and the minister for not upholding the South African constitution.
“We want the minster of land reform to respect the true objects of the freedom charter and restore the dignity of those who was disposed of their homes by the apartheid government. The City of Cape Town needs to become proactive in providing in the basic requirements required to assist with restitution of claimant. We want the city to include the people in all further social development programs in District Six especially those returning,” said Salie.
Ajam went on to addressing the 2014 claimants that have been stopped and said there is no valid reason for the new commissioners to address these claims.
He stressed the D6WC is working hard to fight for the restitution; he further added that little financial donation which they are requiring for the administration fee is not compulsory. He explained that the legal team are taking the matter pro bono and the current membership fee is assisting to pay salaries for the D6WC staff.
The special power of attorney has been sent by their attorneys on Friday. He says they are appealing to all claimants to visit there offices to complete the forms.
Meanwhile, Ajam was invited by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to present a paper on Wednesday 18th April 2018 on land reform in District Six. VOC