District Six claimants expect Nkoana-Mashabane to explain development delay

Claimants of District Six forced removals expect Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to explain why her department has stalled on plans to redevelop open land in the Cape Town CBD.(David Harrison/M&G)

Claimants of District Six forced removals expect Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to explain why her department has stalled on plans to redevelop open land in the Cape Town CBD.(David Harrison/M&G)

Claimants of District Six forced removals expect Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to explain why her department has stalled on plans to redevelop open land in the Cape Town CBD. The land was once occupied by the claimants before they were forcefully removed. Nkoana-Mashabane — or officials from her department — will be in the Western Cape high court on Friday. 

In March, the department missed a court-issued deadline to deliver a detailed plan of action on the cost, scale, and modality of a District Six restitution programme.

Now, the minister herself must explain to the land court why there’s been little-to-no action on District Six.

Shahied Ajam, of the District Six working committee, said: “We know this case has been coming on for a year now. The call from day one was for the minister and her team to deliver the holistic conceptual plan. So that will be the burning question that the court will be direct in asking her. The question will be, do you have a plan, or don’t you have a plan?” 

In an earlier affidavit to the court, the department of rural development and land reform said the development of the land at District Six would not be easy. Building homes for the more than one thousand claimants could cost over than R11 billion and take almost two decades to build.

That plan has been rejected by the working group.

“The minister and her team undertook guesswork to come to the determination that it would take ten to 20 years to develop and construct district six. We know for a fact that if there should be dedicated funding, district six could be completed in the space of two to three years,” Ajam said.

Ajam questions the motives behind the delays, adding that not matter if original claimants pass on, their children will pick up the mantle.

“They were probably hoping that the elderly claimants would die off and they would monetary compensation packages for the youngsters. The youngsters of course in their opinion have no interest in district six, and they are so wrong. We want the land of district six back. We just want the land developed for future generations. So that that can be the legacy that we have inherited,” Ajam said.

Phuti Mabelebele, spokesperson for the department, said it is not clear whether the minister will attend the court hearing.

“The department will be in attendance, but the minister is still consulting legal counsel. Because the department has made some representation already,” Mabelebele said.

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