By Anees Teladia
The District Six Working Committee (D6WC) gearing up for another court battle that seeks to speed up the restitution process for the many desperate and eager claimants awaiting their long-delayed return to District Six. Last week, the D6WC criticised the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s plan, calling it inadequate. The organisation held a public meeting on Sunday afternoon and according to Ajam, claimants feel affronted by government’s lack of vision.
“With regard to the so-called conceptual plan, it’s just pathetic,” said D6WC chairperson Shahied Ajam.
“Government decided to reinvent the wheel and come up with a so-called plan, which they know they don’t have the funding or direction for.”
In the Western Cape High Court on the 26 November 2018, Judge Jody Kollapen ordered that a holistic plan to redevelop District Six be produced within a period of 3 months. He declared that the South African government had violated the claimants’ constitutional rights by not providing adequate restitution. The Judge ordered the government to present a viable and sustainable development framework for District Six, supported by a dedicated budget, source of funding, specified timeframes and envisaged milestones by 26 February 2019.
The Department of Rural Development said in its filing notice to the court that ”(i) the plan envisaged by the order has not been completed as consultations are ongoing and (ii) there was a period from mid-December 2018 to around mid-January 2019 during which consultations and further attendances in this matter were very difficult as most people were out of office and on holiday”.
Ajam commented on the government’s lack of preparation, consideration and urgency on the District Six issue.
“That was a let-down for the people in that they expected government to come up with something concrete,” said Ajam.
“The working committee has always had a plan, in spite of government not being ready with its plan, as ordered by the high court.”
According to Ajam, the community of District Six deserves more from government.
“We are 25 years into democracy and still the government doesn’t respect our dignity,” said Ajam.
There are many claimants who have lived through the atrocities committed by the Apartheid regime and have since the inception of democracy patiently awaited their return to the area.
“If one has regard (especially) for the elderly, why are their dreams being dashed repeatedly by the government?” asked Ajam.
“We are doing this especially for the aged and senior citizens who have experienced and lived through apartheid – who were brutalised and dehumanised.”
Monetary compensation does not seem to be the primary focus of the District Six Working Committee, but Ajam insists that the pain of the removals needs to be considered by those claimants who opt for monetary compensation.
“If you want monetary compensation, think about District Six and your legacy. Ask yourself whether R100 000 is going to satisfy you,” said Ajam.
“There can be no compensation for the injustices that were perpetuated as a result of apartheid and colonialism – we must think of all these things when we consider monetary compensation.”
As such, Ajam asserts that those accepting monetary compensation should only look at numbers of R1million and above.
The D6WC is expecting a court date soon and asks the public to attend the hearing. VOC