Still no word on District Six housing placement system
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Cape Town - District Six claimants are still in the dark regarding the allocation of homes as the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development has kept mum about the plans.
This comes amid unconfirmed reports that as many as 900 applications for the 108 units were received by the department for Phase 3 of the redevelopment project.
The department refused to respond to specific questions regarding the plans except to say: “We will update the claimants and the public on a date to be confirmed by the department.”
In a March report to court, the department had indicated that construction of the 108 units on Hanover Street would be completed by May 3.
However, construction workers are still on-site and the department has refused to answer questions on when the units would be ready or share the list of those who would be allocated houses.
When Weekend Argus visited the area on Wednesday, some residents who had been visiting friends said they had submitted their names and were hoping that it would be clear by now whether or not they would get houses.
“In the absence of any communication or update, my elderly mother has lost hope. I don’t know if it will happen or not. Our lives are in limbo once again,” one resident said.
In 2019, the Western Cape High Court gave the national government three years to complete restitution claims made between 1995 and 1998 which amounted to 975 claimants.
It also has to update the court on progress regularly. The claimants, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s have waited for more than 25 years to return to the site from which they were removed under the 1956 Group Areas Act.
The DA’s provincial spokesperson on Human Settlements Matlhodi Maseko said the continued delay in the return of 108 families to District Six was a major stumbling block for restitution and justice.
“The department’s inability to communicate a date when claimants can expect to return speaks to disorganisation, poor planning and calls into question whether the national government cares enough about restitution,” Maseko said.
She added that claimants deserved to have certainty about when and who might be able to return home “at the end of this month”.
Last week the City of Cape Town obtained an interdict preventing further occupation of the District Six land after structures were erected.
According to the City, as of March 31, 99 informal structures have been erected in District Six but further occupations took place on April 27.
Those who had occupied the site said they had no houses of their own.
Maseko said the national department would be invited to brief the provincial Standing committee on human settlements on June 17 on the status of the project after it withdrew “again” last week.
“We still do not have clarity from them about the status of the housing developments or the steps it has taken to protect the land,” she said.
The department established a committee which was tasked with establishing the eligibility of land claimants for return.
However, it had yet to communicate on which claimants had been approved.
“We will update the claimants and the public on a date to be confirmed by the department,” was the response from the department’s spokesperson, Vuyani Nkasayi.
Earlier, the District Six Working Committee expressed hope that the national government would step in to ensure the successful finalised restitution of the people of District Six.
“We have several older claimants in their 80s, 90s, even 100s who don’t deserve any more delays,” said a statement by the committee.
In a letter through their lawyers in April, the District Six claimants expressed concerns over crucial aspects of the government’s redevelopment process, and have appealed for transparency.
In a letter through legal representatives, Norton Rose Fulbright to the state attorney, the claimants also urged the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to share information on how it intended to plug an envisaged financial shortfall for the redevelopment.
The claimants said the department had committed a total of R351 million to the redevelopment of District Six and the estimated budget was R1.87 billion at present.
They also requested to be kept abreast on the final list of the 108 claimants for Phase 3, when it would be published and whether those who applied for a special allocation were interviewed by the Panel and whether there was a process for appeals for unsuccessful claimants.