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District Six claimants take their fight to Land Claims court

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By Wardah Wilkinson

District Six claimants will march to Parliament and the Mayor’s office on Human Rights Day on the 21 March. The protest will be organised by the District Six Working Committee, together with the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Reclaim the City and United Behind.

The protest comes after the District Six Working Committee’s decision to take the new Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province Government, to the South Africa Land Claims Court for failing to restitute the majority of the District Six claimants.

Chairperson of the District Six Working Committee Shahied Ajam said the organisations want to place the land issue, the housing crisis and gentrification on the national agenda. With national Human Rights Day being celebrated on 21 March, Ajam feels the dignity and rights of displaced District Six residents are being trampled upon.

Emotions were high at a public meeting on Sunday, in which land claimants expressed their frustration with government’s perceived inaction on restitution.

“We will never forget how the apartheid government forced us to move in their trucks, and they dumped us onto the Cape Flats. The Group Areas Act divided us. The pain and struggle we had to endure today is due to apartheid. Today, we are being subjected to gangsters and poverty, all these social issues are due to the forced removals. We lived in great harmony before,” said Hanover Park resident Salie Davids.

Ajam believes the fundamental basic rights of the District Six evictees are being violated.

“The South African constitution comes from the international human rights’ charter. It is 24-years into our young democracy and yet the human dignity, especially of people who were disposed of their land in terms of the 1913 Native Land Act, has not yet been restored in an urban context,” said Ajam.

“The constitution is a blue print for the human rights of South Africa. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government, has failed and violated section 10 and 26, which speaks about the right of access to Housing in section 26 and the Right to Human Dignity in section 10. We are going to protest peacefully for local and regional government to acknowledge these rights,” said Ajam.

The DSWC and its attorneys Norton Rose Fulbright are in the process of drafting the founding affidavits which will be filed at the Land Claims Court in Johannesburg and submitted before 30 March 2018.

“This will be a historical case which will force the respondents to uphold the Constitution. Our situation is intolerable and breached our constitutional right to restoration,” he stressed.

The committee said that they are going ahead with litigation, following the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform former Minister Gugile Nkwinti’s failure to provide answers to their letter of demands sent more than a year ago. The D6WC is being represented by a senior associate at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, attorney Nicki Van Riet.

“We were given 42 hectares in District Six; this was set aside for restitution by our democratic elected government. An agreement was made in 1998 between the District Six Beneficiary Trust, the City of Cape Town and the then land affairs minister, where claimants would either be financially compensated or relocated to the new development,” he said.

“We want to declare the minister, the department and City of Cape Town in breach of constitutional and statutory obligations in respect of land restitution,” he concluded. VOC


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