Six acres returned

2015-11-03 06:00
The Solomon family with Mayor Patricia De Lille on the land where Juanita and her family lived and grew up on.

The Solomon family with Mayor Patricia De Lille on the land where Juanita and her family lived and grew up on.

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A family in Retreat celebrated the return of 6 acres of “stolen” land worth R5.6m last week.

Mayor Patricia de Lille lauded the Solomon family for their dedication in seeing their claim through to the end.

The original claim was lodged by Juanita Solomon on behalf of her late parents, Isaac and Clara Solomon, who owned a vegetable and flower farm on the land.

She has been living three streets away from this parcel of land which her father was forced to surrender 54 years ago. She and her sister are Isaac and Clara’s only surviving children.

De Lille says last year the regional Land Claims Commission wrote to the City and asked them to release the land for restitution purposes.

“They told us the heartbreaking story of the Solomon family. The original owner, Isaac, was forced to sell the land he had bought and cultivated because this section of Retreat had been declared a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act,” she says.

Juanita Solomon’s fight to get the property back has taken two decades.

“We are honoured to celebrate another milestone in our redress programme,” says De Lille.

“As leaders it is not only our duty, but also a privilege, to ensure that we undo the unjust legacy of the past in order to ensure a better future for our residents.”

In May the council resolved to release these erven for restitution purposes and although they are legally entitled to keep the land, they believe that this land was never theirs to begin with, De Lille says.

“We have therefore endeavoured to complete our part of the process as speedily as possible. Our haste is driven by the fact that a generation of claimants is losing time and losing hope,” she says.

De Lille says she is certain that Juanita Solomon’s parents made many sacrifices in order to acquire the land, before they were forced to start their lives over again, greatly disadvantaged.

“We will therefore give them a 10-year property rates holiday from the date of the transfer of the property into their name. We will support and prioritise their building plans once they have submitted these to the City.

“We will also provide assistance as they embark on their planning process,” she says.
Solomon says that although they experienced many hold-ups before they reached their end goal she wanted to persevere.
“We did not have stumbling blocks, but rocks. My parents had paved a good life for us and I wanted to do this for them and my family,” she says.
She feels her parents had provided for them so unselfishly and she did not want to let them down.
“To my family I want to say that we must treasure what we have and keep the legacy of the Solomon family alive,” she says.

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