Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane failed to show up at the Western Cape High court on Wednesday for a court application lodged by the District Six Working Committee (D6WC). She is being taken to court in her personal capacity by the D6WC for her alleged failure to deliver a holistic plan for the redevelopment and restitution of the historical area, as ordered by Judge Jody Kollapen during a court judgment handed down in November last year.
During court proceedings on Wednesday, Judge Yasmin Shenaz Meer said the minister should come and explain to the people what is happening. She criticised the government for dragging the matter. The case was postponed to 17 May.
“This matter has been drawn out for the longest time with no success, it is high time that this matter is resolved and the minister needs to answer the community and this will only be done when she comes to court herself and takes responsibility or explain what the delay is in this matter,” stated Meer.
Outside, scores of District Six supporters gathered to show their disapproval of the government’s apathy on the issue.
“This government was never ready for us. To treat us like slap chips for the last 20 years…shows how they disregard us. Today the court showed them they must respect and restore the dignity of the people!” said D6WC chairperson Shahied Ajam.
Director at Norton Rose Fulbright Nicky van’t Riet said they are happy with the outcome of today’s events.
“We came here today seeking a declaration that the minister was in contempt of the order and what we heard today was that the minister must file an answering affidavit due in the next 10 court days. The minster herself has been ordered to come back next month and must explain what the delay is for the people of District Six are and what is the plan going forward,” she stated.
Residents said the postponement of the matter is another way government wants to exploit residents and avoid settling the matter.
“This is another way they want to confuse us; they think we are ignorant and don’t know what their plans are. Next month is the elections and then ministers will be reshuffled which means no one will actually be held accountable because at the next hearing the new minister will simply say they need time to familiarise themselves with the issues with the District Six claimants.”
“We have been coming to court case after court case and it is definitely no surprise that the court has decided to postpone and once again, we are the one’s suffering. Coming to court all the time is taxing on us, but no one ever considers us and how we feel. We need this matter to be solved urgently, either they compensate us or simply give us our land back.”
Ajam said it is just a matter of time before dignity is restored in District Six.
“We are happy with the judgement that was delivered today, it brings us one step closer to restoring dignity to the people. Knowing that the minister was ordered to appear in court next month brings us one step closer restoring hope and peace in District Six,” he said.