District Six land claimants were in full voice outside the Western Cape High Court on Friday after it was found that the department of rural development and land reform had failed to comply with a court order to draft a plan to redevelop the area.
Former land minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was also hit with a personal costs order for being “grossly unreasonable” in the discharge of her duties, said acting Land Claims Court Judge President Yasmin Meer.
“We are going home to our land in District Six,” belted out Amina James of the District Six working committee, followed by the rest of the claimants outside court who were smiling from ear to ear.
Meer said the judgment that the department had failed to comply fell on the incumbent minister, Thoko Didiza. However, Nkoana-Mashabana would have to pay personal costs of counsel since April 17, as she had been the minister at the time of the complaint.
Nkoana-Mashabane and the department were hauled to court by District Six land claimants after it missed a February court deadline to compile a comprehensive plan to redevelop the area.
“We have been praying and praying for this. I want to close my eyes in District Six. My heart wants to be in District Six,” said a visibly happy James.
Judge Meer also ordered that Deputy President David Mabuza be handed a copy of the judgment in his capacity as the chair of the inter-ministerial committee on land reform.
District Six working group chairperson Shahied Ajam called the ruling a “wise one”.
“The judgment will not only benefit the people of District Six, but also other marginalised communities,” he said.
Judge Meer shared the same sentiment, saying: “I hope that this will go a long way in resolving land claims and restitution matters which have not been resolved.”
Ajam said a press briefing would be held on Saturday to chart a way forward.
“The development process must be completed within the next five years,” he said, adding that the details would be agreed upon by the community, and in consultation with the minister.