Return of land draws near

2017-02-14 06:01
Eight families who were forcibly moved out of Constantia over 50 years ago will soon get their land back as the City of Cape Town has now transferred ownership of the land to the regional land claims commission in preparation.  PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

Eight families who were forcibly moved out of Constantia over 50 years ago will soon get their land back as the City of Cape Town has now transferred ownership of the land to the regional land claims commission in preparation. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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A Constantia group representing families dispossessed of local land during apartheid has applauded the City of Cape Town for transferring a piece of land to the regional land claims commission.

However, Uthmaan Rhoda, chairperson of the Constantia Beneficiary Restitution Trust, adds that a lot still needs to be done before the families can get their land back.

Rhoda was speaking at an event last Wednesday where eight families, who were forcefully moved out of Constantia when it was declared a whites-only area about 50 years ago, moved a step closer to justice.

“Today is the last lap. It’s the ringing of the bell to show that you have run a good race and the end is here. We are happy for the families who are getting their land back. However, I must take this opportunity to say that the claims need to be fast-tracked. There are a lot of obstacles and delays, but we managed to get back on track.”

The land claim is for a 6ha parcel of land worth about R120m.

Mayor Patricia de Lille says she was worried that the process had taken long and congratulates the families for their patience.

“I would like to congratulate you for the hard work you put in to get your land back. Most of all I would like to congratulate you for not giving up. You kept going. As the City we are committed to redressing the injustices of the past by enabling citizens to gain access to their dispossessed land as a result of the past racially discriminatory law and practices.

“It is unacceptable that people are dying before getting to enjoy the benefit of the land which was rightfully theirs. This was their lives, they made a living out of this land and they were moved to areas where they couldn’t continue with their activities they knew like family. Though it’s taking long we are committed to getting everyone back to their rightful places,” she says.V Continued on page 3.

Attending the handover ceremony were the claimants’ families and the eldest survivor, Gadija Ebrahim, who will be 90 in a few weeks.

She says it is a dream come true.

“I’m so happy that we finally got the land back. It has taken so long but finally we have it. I’m too old to do anything but I believe my grandchildren will make good use of the land. What makes me feel at peace is that we finally got the grounds back,” she says.

Kieran Gajjar says he is grateful that the government is doing its job to help them, though he also complained that the process was not moving as fast as they wanted.

“I feel very good that the land is going back to the family. Though the people who know what really happened and how it felt when their land was taken are no longer with us, we are glad that we have the land back. It has been an exhausting two years. Meetings after meeting ... but I’m glad that it has paid off,” he says.

The land is currently being used by the City as a waste drop-off facility. De Lille has promised that it would be cleared by August.

“It will be cleared completely and you can have you land back. End of March we are getting a contractor to remove the waste, then you will have it back. We are doing this because, in the first place we were not supposed to even use it, it doesn’t belong to the City, it belongs to you. If there is anything that we can help you with let us know and we will help where we can.”

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