Ex-District Six residents ‘must fight to come back’
FORMER residents of District Six have been told not to “romanticise” going back as they will not find the closeknit, safe community their families were evicted from almost 53 years ago. Instead, the handful of residents who have resettled, have found it a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless people.
At a meeting of the District Six Working Committee yesterday, Aisha Salie of the District Six Civic Association said those who have resettled were elderly and needed help to rebuild the community. She said a third force was sowing discord in the community.
Salie said there was no one to complain to. “You must fight to come back. Want ek raak moeg (because I am getting tired). Every day it is a fight,” she told the elderly crowd in the Blackpool community hall in Salt River.
The committee called the meeting to give feedback to claimants about their victory in the High Court on Monday November 26. The committee took the government to court over the slow pace of restitution for District Six land claimants.
Judge Jody Kollapen instructed the Department of Land Affairs and Rural Development to submit a “viable and sustainable development plan to the court by February 18, 2019”.
Chairperson of the committee Shahied Ajam said former residents, who were “disillusioned and disgusted” by the process, gave them a mandate in November 2013 to take their battle forward.
“There is 42 hectares that’s been lying there since 1999 waiting for you to return. Government did not honour their obligation to you. Now it is in your hands,” Ajam said.
Judge Kollapen told the department that the redevelopment plan should contain the layout and design of the project, how many units would be built, how it would be funded, including allocating a budget, the exact time frames and how the housing units would be allocated.
“There will be no more phases. Phase 1, 2 and 3 was a flop. They must just finish and klaar,” he said.
But Ajam also warned claimants not to “romanticise too much about what was”. Instead, he said, they should focus on “what will be”.
The committee was represented by Norton Rose Fulbright. At the time of the court victory, the committee’s legal representative Geoff Budlender slammed the department for not giving resident a clear plan.
Spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said the minister of rural development and land reform, Maite Nkoana Mashabane had “noted” the ruling of the High Court.