Tired of empty promises

2016-04-19 09:58
The bleak landscape of District 6 with empty spaces waiting to be filled with former residents ready to restore it to its former glory.

The bleak landscape of District 6 with empty spaces waiting to be filled with former residents ready to restore it to its former glory. (Gary van Dyk)

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Former District Six residents are tired of promises and want action in their quest for restitution for their forcible removal from the area in the 1960s.

At a meeting hosted by the District Six Working Committee (D6WC), held on Saturday at the Blackpool Sports Club in Salt River, the hall was packed with people from different historically disadvantaged communities who came to hear how urban restitution should be approached and implemented by all the relevant stakeholders in a holistic fashion, starting with the healing process.
Some of the important guest speakers included Diana Oliver from the Restitution Foundation, Amelia September and Mario Wanza of the Manenberg People’s Forum as well as local councillor Achmat Williams.

Shahied Ajam, chairperson of the organisation, said it is important that the committee impress upon the minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti; the City of Cape Town and all relevant stakeholders to develop the entire 30 hectare vacant land in District Six immediately and simultaneously, starting with the third phase which is currently in progress.
“The idea is to build as many four-story apartments to accommodate as many restitution beneficiaries,” he said.
“The emphasis is on densification with sufficient public spaces and greenery. The urban park in Searle Street bordering Woodstock and District Six, as well as the adjacent Trafalgar swimming pool, already serves as open public spaces in preparation for those thousands of people coming back to District Six.”

Another matter discussed was a dignified and equitable financial compensation package for those not wanting to return or wanting alternate land.
There is some urgent action to take place with regard to the Good Hope Centre, Ajam said.
“We will legally oppose the City of Cape Town in court for closing the doors of the Good Hope Centre to the public three weeks ago when the City voted unanimously to lease it out to a foreign TV company for the next two years. The committee and its coalition partners launched an urgent application to court last week,” explained Ajam.

Also discussed was the need to identify state-owned land within the city periphery for those who cannot be accommodated in District Six.
“Urbanisation is rapidly increasing and everybody has a right to the city especially those who were previously evicted and dispossessed during the apartheid era,” said Ajam.
“Integration in the inner-city space is paramount. The walls of racial and spatial segregation can be broken down in District Six.”
Members also passed a unanimous resolution to the effect that the reference group (who represent the approximately 1000 beneficiaries who claimed between 1995 to 1998), be fused with the D6WC and form one entity that will speak with one voice for all the people.
The D6WC has a mandate to represent over 300 families and is already a legally registered entity with the Department of Trade and Industry as well as with the Intellectual Property Commission.

Finally the D6WC, in addition to assisting the people of District Six, also assist many other previously disadvantaged communities with their respective restitution claims in areas like Ndabeni, Pinelands, Constantia, Goodwood, Newlands Claremont and Simon’s Town.
“To push the envelope even further the D6WC is planning a major march to parliament during July to create an awareness to local, provincial and national government that the people are serious about dignity restoration and coming back to the city, sooner rather than later,” said Ajam.
“It must not come to a point where, because government is stalling unnecessary, that the people will start to occupy the vacant land in District Six soon and build their own make-shift houses while waiting for the powers-that-be to make up their minds. The people are gatvol of waiting for over 21 years now.”
For more information about the committee call 021 801 8437 or email enquiries@district6wc.co.za

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