The bat­tle for promised land is stepped up

District Six claimants take fight to court

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

DISTRICT Six claimants say a court or­der is the only thing they trust to en­sure that the gov­ern­ment delivers on its land resti­tu­tion prom­ises af­ter 20 years of wait­ing.

Claimants pre­pare to take on the Depart­ment of Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form to the Land Claims Court for a hear­ing in three months’ time to ask for a court or­der that com­pels the gov­ern­ment to come up with a de­tailed plan to ad­dress their fail­ure to pro­vide resti­tu­tion.

This also comes af­ter a fall­ing out be­tween the stand­ing com­mit­tee on hu­man set­tle­ments and the depart­ment over the de­vel­op­ment of the 42 hectares of land in District Six – with the com­mit­tee stat­ing that it had reached an agree­ment with the depart­ment to trans­fer funds to the pro­vin­cial depart­ment, which would be­come the im­ple­ment­ing agent for the build­ing of houses in the area. But the na­tional depart­ment de­nied such an agree­ment.

Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Mathlodi Maseko said she un­der­stood the deal still stood.

She said they would in­vite Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee to ac­count.

Yes­ter­day, the claimants met their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to go over the sta­tus of the case be­fore the hear­ing, set to take place in Novem­ber.

Irate com­mu­nity mem­bers said it was up­set­ting that the gov­ern­ment was hold­ing dis­cus­sions on the is­sue with­out con­sult­ing them first.

One of the claimants, Asila Alie, 74, said they no longer had faith in any sphere of gov­ern­ment to han­dle this. “We are feel­ing very pos­i­tive about the court case. Pre­vi­ously peo­ple were go­ing to the Land Claims Court by them­selves and we never got sat­is­fac­tory an­swers. We don’t trust the gov­ern­ment any more,” she said.

“The sad thing about this is that a lot of the claimants are dy­ing and so are their chil­dren. By the time this is sorted out, it could be that it (will be) thir­dor fourth-gen­er­a­tion claimants who fi­nally see the ‘promised land’.”

In their ap­pli­ca­tion, the claimants want a declara­tory or­der that de­tails gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to pro­vide resti­tu­tion to those who lodged valid claims by De­cem­ber 1998, and that fail­ure con­sti­tutes a vi­o­la­tion of the rights of claimants.

They want the court to direct the min­is­ter to come up with a plan in con­sul­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity of District Six that will pro­vide a lay­out for the de­vel­op­ment of the area, de­tails on the num­ber of res­i­den­tial units to be al­lo­cated to claimants, how the plan will be funded as well as bud­get al­lo­ca­tions and time frames in terms of im­plan­ta­tions of these plants.

They are ask­ing that the gov­ern­ment be com­pelled to re­port to the court ev­ery three months on the progress of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plans.

Nicki van’t Riet, di­rec­tor at Nor­ton Rose, the law firm rep­re­sent­ing the claimants, said al­though the gov­ern­ment had missed sev­eral dead­lines to sub­mit their an­swer­ing pa­pers and would now have to an­swer to the court for this, they an­tic­i­pate that the dates set down for the hear­ing will pro­ceed.

“We have spo­ken to the state at­tor­ney and he has promised me that the an­swer­ing pa­pers will be filed by next Friday.

“Those pa­pers have been drafted and are cur­rently sit­ting with their ad­vo­cates. Once we have those pa­pers, we will have 10 days to re­ply to them. What we are ex­pect­ing are fac­tual steps the gov­ern­ment has taken in the last 20 years in or­der to ful­fil its obli­ga­tion. We are look­ing for­ward to get­ting their ver­sion of the story.

“Novem­ber 22 to 30 is the date set down for the hear­ing. It’s likely we will choose one day for the hear­ing.

“I truly feel like we are on track to achieve our de­sired re­sult, which is to get a plan of ac­tion in place and to over­see a timeous im­ple­men­ta­tion of that plan so that peo­ple don’t have to wait an­other 60 years for resti­tu­tion.”

Kept wait­ing 20 years for de­liv­ery on resti­tu­tion

PIC­TURE: AYANDA NDAMANE/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Ethan Lyons from Brook­lyn Pri­mary tries to evade tack­lers from Ma­cas­sar Pri­mary, dur­ing a Western Prov­ince mini-rugby day at CPUT’s Bel­lville cam­pus yes­ter­day.

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