The signing into law of the Land Restitution and Amendment Bill by President Jacob Zuma has been hailed as a victory. This means that the restitution claims process will now be re-opened and offers claimants five years to lodge land claims. This development will now have a major impact on the District Six claimants.
According to the Chairperson of the District Six Working Committee (D6WC), Shahied Ajam, the new bill which has been signed into law, offers other claimants to now come forward with the necessary documentation and begin the process of having the land returned to the rightful owners.
However, Ajam explained that former D6 residents should not flock to the offices of the Department of Land Reform just yet. The next process is to follow is the official announcement by Minister of Land Affairs and Rural Development, Gugile Nkwinti as to when the offices will be opened and where applications for land restitution can be accessed.
“But before any official announcements will be made, the government will first issue a youth brigade with a series of pocket manuals which will be handed out to the public. These manuals will include distinct instructions on how to go about lodging a claim. Thereafter, road shows will also make its way to various communities to bring awareness to the official re-opening and also, inform South Africans of what instructions they will need to follow to ensure a smooth and speedy process,” Ajam said.
“We want the community to be aware of the fact that we [D6WC] will now report to the government on issues regarding the District Six redevelopment plan. We need to have a sit down with current land owners like CPUT to discuss which land will be given back to the community of District Six.”
Furthermore, Ajam reiterated that the expectations of new land claimants should be realistic. Homes will not be issued in the coming days, months or even years.
Ajam said the process was long and will take a while before anyone will be moving back.
“We are firstly going to request our 150 hectares back,” Ajam said.
However, the signing of the Act is a major victory in the restitution process and ensures that the overall process is moving ahead.
“President Zuma definitely put his money where his mouth is,” Ajam added. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)