Claim land invaded

2015-05-26 06:00
Claimants are calling District Six land to be protected against informal settlements.

PHOTO: 
nicole mccain

Claimants are calling District Six land to be protected against informal settlements. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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An informal settlement on restitution land has beneficiaries with their hands in their hair.

An empty plot in District Six has become home to a handful of informal shacks. But the settlement is rubbing salt in the wounds of beneficiaries who have been waiting years to return home, says District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam.

“It shows how everyone is ignoring redress,” he says.

“What impression does it create when the land earmarked for restitution is not even being safeguarded?”

The ease at which informal settlements can spring up on the land has been highlighted by various threats of occupation by community organisations, Ajam says.

However, resident Melissa Morris says she has been living on the land for several years and is aware that it has been earmarked for claimants.

“They can’t go against their word. If they give the land to claimants we’ll have to find another place to sleep. But we don’t disturb the neighbours and they don’t bother us,” she says.

Regional Land Claims commissioner Michael Worsnip says securing the site falls to the City of Cape Town.

“The City is the present owner of the land and is responsible to keep it clear of informal dwellers and invaders on the land. The District Six Community Forum was constituted to look after the safety and security of the returnees in the area and is made up of people currently living in District Six,” he says.

The District Six Reference Group oversees the orderly integration of District Six beneficiaries through its social integration team, Worsnip says.

Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security, says the City’s law enforcement teams conduct regular patrols in the area.

These efforts are supplemented by patrols by the local neighbourhood watch, Worsnip says.

However, Ajam is calling for the Land Claims Commission to step in and secure property intended for claimants.

“The government wants the world to believe District Six is sacred ground, but it’s not looking after District Six. At this rate, there will be nothing left for claimants,” he says

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