Family joy for land

2015-08-04 06:00
The Davids family walk with mayor Patricia de Lille on the four hectares of land that was handed back to them after 50 years. The family lost the land during apartheid. 

Chevon Booysen

The Davids family walk with mayor Patricia de Lille on the four hectares of land that was handed back to them after 50 years. The family lost the land during apartheid. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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A family from Lotus River is overjoyed after getting back the land they lost during apartheid.

The Davids family, who were relocated right across the road from the land, says they are overjoyed to finally have the four-hectare piece of land, valued at R1.8m, back.

The handover by the City of Cape Town was done on the piece of land, on the corner of Bays Water Road and Sixth Avenue, on Tuesday last week with mayor Patricia de Lille. The ceremony was bitter sweet as the original claimants, couple Garaniesa and Doud Davids, passed away years ago.

Nazeem Davids, their eldest son, said: “It is a dream come true for our family after all these years. It is a pity our parents could not witness this moment of hope and joy.”

The eldest sister, Asa Davids, can recount fond memories of living on the land before it was taken from them.

“Here used to be bush but my siblings and I used to play here all the time. Winter was a favourite time for us because then it was muddy and we could play freely,” she says.

Asa says it was tough growing up but they were grateful for their parents’ hard work.

“They were hard-working parents who did everything they could to survive. My mother sold fruit and flowers for a living but she made it work for us as a family because both of them just wanted the best for us,” she says.

The siblings say it was unpleasant to live right across the road from the land that they knew was theirs.

During the handover De Lille said she was happy the family got justice after 50 years.

“The Land Act of 1913 was one of the biggest wrongs of our past, causing damage to the lives of millions of South Africans. Its legacy is still one of the biggest issues that our nation faces to date. Land restitution is of great significance to the City of Cape Town because it is one of the greatest opportunities for redress and reconciliation,” she said.

She explained Doud bought the land when he stayed in a corrugated structure on the street. “He stayed in that structure with his wife, Garaniesa, and their eight children. His dream was for his children to have land to build their own houses on one day. To make ends meet, he drove his wife around on their donkey cart while she sold fruit and flowers on the streets of Lotus River,” De ­Lille said.

Lotus River was declared a coloured area in 1961 and Doud bought the land in 1963; two years later it was dispossessed.
It is now exactly 50 years since his family’s forced removal.
“For decades [the couple] had to face the daily pain of looking over this land that was unjustly removed from them. I cannot imagine the pain the late Doud Davids must have endured on a daily basis as his eyes undoubtedly fell on the land that was rightfully his,” De Lille said.

Doud passed away in 1980. Garaniesa lodged the land restitution claim in 1996.

“Even in her final moments on her deathbed in 2011, she called her son Nazeem into the room. There she made him promise that the children would continue to fight this battle,” De Lille said. She congratulated the family and commended them for their patience during the process.
The Davids family says they have not yet decided what to do with the land.

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