Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has submitted a plan on the redevelopment of District Six to the Land Claims Court for residents who lodged claims between 1994 and 1998.
The plan includes a detailed layout for the redevelopment, how it is to be funded, estimated timeframes for implementation and how allocating residential units to the claimants will be conducted.
“The submission of the detailed plan comes after the litigation brought by the District Six Working Committee against the fifth administration of the government. In November 2018, the court directed that a plan and programme be submitted to court,” department spokesman Reggie Ngcobo said in a statement on Tuesday.
Shahied Ajam, the chairperson of the working committee, said the group’s legal team would be studying the submission.
“Our legal team together with the technical team as well as the working committee will be going through this document intensely this evening and we may call a press conference in the next day or two.”
Ngcobo explained upon her appointment “Minister Didiza was apprised of the matter and she requested the court for an extension in order to give the process the necessary attention”.
In August, when the extension was granted, the court ordered that a draft implementation plan should be handed to the working committee.
Comment on the plan had since been received, Ngcobo said.
“In terms of the court order, the final plan was to be submitted by December 15, however, upon the court’s indulgence, an extension was granted to December 17, 2019, which will then become a public document.
“Engagements with interested parties have taken place, including the meeting of the minister with the affected claimants on Saturday, December 14, 2019, and further engagements are envisaged. In addition, quarterly reports are to be submitted to the court disclosing progress on the redevelopment plan.”
Construction would be done in phases, Ngcobo said. Phase three, which will be completed next year, is currently under way.
“Furthermore, the 954 claimants [noting that some claimants may still opt for financial compensation] are still awaiting dwellings as part of the redevelopment process, and this matter is being currently addressed through a court process.
“The history of the dispossession and forced removal of the residents of District Six by South Africa’s apartheid regime is well-documented and therefore public knowledge. With the advent of our democracy, the Restitution of Land Rights Act No. 22 of 1994 was introduced, offering the framework for restoration or restitution to the people of South Africa.”
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights received 2,760 claims related to District Six stemming from the forced removals in the area, resulting in the dispossession of ownership and tenancy rights.