National

District Six land claimants one step closer to houses

Sapa

Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti hopes to fast track the third phase of District Six development to have the elderly in houses by Christmas.

District Six in Cape Town. (David Harrison, M&G)

Work on the third phase of the District Six housing development will start next week, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Saturday.

"We want to build ... We want to start next week," he said to a cheering crowd of around a thousand people in central Cape Town.

"We want old people, please, old people [are a] priority. That would be the best news for this Christmas: that all the old people are back in District Six."

Residents were forcibly removed from the area in the 1960s, following the introduction of the Group Areas Act.

Around 1 200 claimants have since opted to return to the area.

In the first phase, 24 units were built, while 115 units were built in the second phase. All units had been allocated and title deeds were expected to be transferred by June.

Groundwork
Nkwinti organised a meeting on Saturday to report on the progress that had been made and arrangements in place for phase three, which begins with bulk earthworks this month to prepare for construction.

A marquee was erected for the meeting on a piece of land donated by the neighbouring Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

Provincial land restitution chief director Michael Worsnip said power of attorney was still needed from CPUT and political principles still needed to give approval before phase-three housing could be built on the land.

But Nkwinti said the land claimants had waited long enough and he had spoken to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to fast track development.

Zubeida Samsodien of the District Six reference group said more than 300 dwellings would be built.

"The reality is that we do not believe from our engagement with the department that all the outstanding validated claimants will be back by the end of 2014," she said.

No cost
The crowd welcomed her announcements that no one would have to pay R225 000 for a house and would be exempted from rates for the first 10 years after occupation.

Some had opted for financial compensation instead of an apartment or row house.

Nkwinti handed over 59 financial vouchers to a grinning row of beneficiaries, the oldest of which was 84 years old and had to be assisted with walking.

The minister thanked the reference group for their hard work since being elected by the community last year.

"I have lost power completely. They are running in front and I am running behind them," he said. – Sapa

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