The short answer
The best people to approach about speeding up your mother’s claim are those involved in the District Six Working Committee.
The whole question
Who can I be directed to so that I speed up the process of my mother having her house restored after she had been evicted (from District Six) during the apartheid years? She is now 78 and has difficulty getting up and down the stairs in her third floor flat in Hanover Park.
The long answer
Yes, it has been a very long time that the claimants have had to wait to get their houses back. From the information I have been able to gather from sources like Daily Maverick and News24, this is more or less how it has gone to date:
The restitution was a national government duty, not a provincial one. The cut-off date for claiming was 1998. It took ten years from 1994 for the first people to get their houses back in 2004, a decade after democracy. Phase 1 of the redevelopment was completed in 2008, with 24 claimants. Phase 2 had 115 claimants and the project was completed in 2013.
In 2018, there were still some 1,078 verified claimants waiting for their houses, out of a total of 1,216 verified claims. The District Six Working Committee, which was representing the claimants, lost patience with the slow pace and took the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to the Land Claims Court.
In 2020 Judge Jody Kollapen found in favour of the applicants and ordered the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development to:
Provide a programme and plan, complete with timelines, specific outlines on the funding costs and layouts for the redevelopment of the District Six area;
Report every three months until redevelopment is complete, with reports on the progress of the plan to redevelop District Six.
The authorities quickly presented a proposal for 954 new homes and the resettlement of the plaintiffs and their families by 2024.
In September 2022, Daily Maverick reported that in the latest filing to the Land Claims Court, architectural studies showed that 177 housing units would be built for Phase 4 of the District Six redevelopment, then 173 units in Phase 5, followed by 145 units in Phase 6.
In early 2022 there were safety issues and building faults which the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development had to address before occupancy certificates could be issued to claimants, but the City had issued permission-of-use certificates since 2021. The national department had 12 months to rectify the building faults.
In May 2019, 19 sites in the Bo-Kaap area were declared National Heritage sites by the South African Minister of Arts and Culture, after the City of Cape Town councils had approved the inclusion of the Bo-Kaap area in a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ), which would incorporate around 600 privately owned homes. The City had received over 2,000 letters from residents approving of preserving it.
It seems to me that the best people to approach about speeding up your mother’s claim are those involved in the District Six Working Committee, which has been the main actor in taking up the claimants’ fight to get their homes back.
These are their details:
Address: Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8001
Hours: Closes 6 pm
Phone: 021 801 8437
Wishing you the best,
Answered on March 20, 2023, 5:30 p.m.
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