Unrestituted: District Six's oldest resident dies at the age of 100 while waiting to return

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Shariefa Khan was looking forward to moving into her home in District 6.
Shariefa Khan was looking forward to moving into her home in District 6.
Nadiema Khan
  • Shariefa Khan, the oldest woman in District Six, has died unrestituted at the age of 100.
  • She was waiting for the go-ahead to move into her home in District Six.
  • She is expected to be buried in accordance with Muslim rites.

The oldest woman in District Six in Cape Town has died at the age of 100.

Shariefa Khan, who is affectionately known as "mamma", died "unrestituted" at 04:00 on Wednesday.

"She experienced breathing difficulty for a number of hours. Her loving family was by her bedside," the District 6 Working Committee (D6WC) said in a statement. 

Khan would have turned 101 on 25 April.

"Last April, she signed the papers to receive her new apartment in District Six as part of Phase 3 of the restitution process. Her family spent some months making the unit more comfortable and disabled-friendly for her," the committee added.

According to the family, she never received final permission to move in because the national government was still in the process of fixing safety concerns and defects in the buildings. 

READ | 'I still don’t feel free' - oldest woman in District Six turns 100

When News24 spoke to Aunty Sharifa a day after her 100th birthday celebration last year, the bubbly aunty said she still didn't feel free as she longed to be back in District six where she spent majority of her life. 

At the time, she said:

I still don't feel free. There is still racism going around and it makes me very sad. I feel sad.

"Freedom to me would be going back to District Six where I spent most of my life and getting the house I've been waiting for my whole life."

On 11 February 1966, the apartheid regime declared District Six a whites-only area and shortly thereafter, the family received a letter which stated they would have to move. 

"The day when we were told to leave District Six, I left everything behind. My husband didn't want to go, so he stayed and I left and went to stay with my sister in Kensington," Khan said at the time.

"I am very sad that I still don't have a home where my late husband and I once lived," she added.

Khan lived in District Six for more than 40 years and in that time, married her late husband, Dawood Khan. She described him as the "love of my life".

Born in 1921 in Vryburg in the North West, Khan and her family moved to Cape Town in 1928 where they lived in Muizenberg at first and later relocated to Kensington where her father had the very first halaal butchery in the area. 

When News24 spoke to the family during the November elections, Khan had not voted because she was suffering from dementia and was not feeling her usual self. 

The D6WC conveyed their condolences to the Khan family. 

"The D6WC championed her cause and fought hard for her final restitution which was fraught with difficulty. We thank Mrs Khan for fighting the good fight until the end and supporting our court case which will bring restitution to many families like hers. The D6WC remains committed to seeking restitution for Mrs Khan's children, who are also elderly," said the committee.

Khan funeral takes place at her daughter's home in Elsies River later on Wednesday.

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