Throw in the towel, District Six claimants urge Nkoana-Mashabane

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Freddy Mavunda, Gallo Images, Business Day

Claimants are pleading with Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to "throw in the towel" as they await a Land Claims Court judgment on her application for leave to appeal a personal costs order over a failed plan to redevelop District Six.

She was severely criticised in court on Thursday for using taxpayers' money to pay for her lawyers in her latest application.

READ | 'You were relying on hope, not reality' - Judge tells Nkoana-Mashabane, referring to District Six

Last year, Nkoana-Mashabane was hit with a personal costs order after the court ruled that her department at the time, rural development and land reform, had not adequately prepared a plan to redevelop District Six by the court's timeline.

On Thursday, District Six Working Committee chair Shahied Ajam said he was happy that Acting Judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi had not heeded a call to postpone the case for another two weeks.

"I'll be polite and say we are frustrated to the extent that we feel that Minister Nkoana-Mashabane is unnecessarily wasting taxpayers' money. We feel that she should have just thrown in the towel the first time the costs order was made," he said.

READ | District Six: Minister hit with personal costs over 'grossly unreasonable' court order failure

'Grossly negligent'

During proceedings on Thursday, Geoff Budlender, acting for the claimants, said the women, children and people with disabilities department was likely footing the bill.

He asked that Nkoana-Mashabane be enjoined in her personal capacity.

"What this case has to do with the ministry of women is difficult to discern…" Budlender added.

The minister's legal team asked for a 15-day postponement to tell the court who was paying its legal fees.

Ngcukaitobi would not entertain the request, giving Nkoana-Mashabane seven days to tell the court if her new department will be paying for her current application, and if so, why.

"We just pray that she will not waste the court's time in the next seven days because, after all, Parliament is in Cape Town. Why doesn't she just come and pay respects to the court?" said Ajam.

The court also gave Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza five days to tell the court if her department would be paying the costs of the application for leave to appeal, and if so, on what basis.

Ngcukaitobi at one stage remarked: "She [Nkoana-Mashabane] is grossly negligent. She has made those people to wait for 25 years. She is playing hide and seek with taxpayers' money."

Judgment was reserved pending the submission of Nkoana-Mashabane and Didiza's affidavits to the court.

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