Finally, District Six title deeds

The Cape Town council has started transferring deeds to the first group of 24 land claimants almost two years after they returned to District Six.

But the city’s move has come too late for Fatima Benting, one of the District Six elders who signed the agreement for the return of the land before President Thabo Mbeki at the emotional “Homecoming” ceremony in November 2000. In her nineties, Benting died in June; she had just returned to the area from which her family was forcibly removed in 1966.

City restitution manager Pogiso Molapo confirmed that, last month, council approved the use of powers of attorney to transfer the land to the first 24 returnees.
The process will be extended to avoid similar delays in the transfer of title deeds to the owners of the next 100 houses, for which prep-arations are under way.

The District Six Bene-ficiaries and Redevelopment Trust will again lead the project. It built the initial 24 homes after becoming frustrated by the snail’s pace of redevelopment.

A key factor was the slow release of land, which is held in trust by the city council, since the 2000 restitution agreement between the city, beneficiary trust and the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

“The first 24 homes were built in protest. We said: ‘We are building come hell or high water. People are dying,’” said trust CEO Naseerudien Ally. “We will build these 100 houses, and the next 100, and the next. There is no profit motive. We are charged with building a community in District Six.”

The city has allocated R4,5million for basic services infrastructure construction on the site and is fast-tracking building plan approvals. It contributed about R3,5million in the previous financial year. It has also removed squatters from the land.

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