District Six claimants still dogged by delays

It has been more than five months since 108 families were expected to move into the District Six Phase 3 project on Hanover Street.

The City says can issue occupancy certificates to 108 District Six claimants only once deviations on a site development plan have been worked out with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

The claimants should have moved into the District Six Phase 3 project more than five months months ago, but it has been dogged by delays.

The DALRRD says it has applied to the City to grant the claimants occupancy certificates so they can move into their houses while final construction, including roadworks, takes place.

“Building works and the construction of the units were completed in June and the units where shown to claimants. The department is now working with the City to obtain occupancy certificates for all units,” said the department’s spokesman, Reggie Ngcobo.

One of the claimants, Mavis Alexander, 82, is increasingly distressed by the delays, according to her son, Jeff Alexander, 60.

“The last information we received from the department about moving into the house was in June this year. My mother is becoming extremely distraught about the delays taking place because she was so excited when we were told that she has a house and can move in by July. It’s already October and no correspondence or keys have been provided to us.”

His mother’s health was suffering as a result, he said. “She gets very emotional when we speak about District Six and it affects the rest of the family as well.

“We do not know what to tell her anymore. My mother also uses a wheelchair at times because she is not able to walk properly without her cane. She was allocated a house on the ground floor and it is wheelchair friendly. However, there is no shower, and she cannot get in and out of a bath.”

Mr Ngcobo said all the ground-floor units had ramp access for the disabled. Claimants had also been given the option to pass on their allocation if they preferred to wait for units in a later phase that they felt might better accommodate their needs.

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said: “The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is in the process of submitting an application in terms of the Municipal Planning By-law to deal with the deviations from the approved site development plan and to deal with the structures erected in the road reserve. Once submitted to the City, the application will receive priority attention.”

Some of the stairs, walls and other street furniture had been built within the road reserve, which was interfering with site’s progress and was a material deviation from the site development plan, she said.

The City and the department were working together to get the relevant applications submitted, approved and inspected, she said.

“Once these processes have been concluded and are in order, the occupancy certificates will be issued so that beneficiaries can move into their new homes.”

District Six Working Committee (D6WC) spokeswoman Karen Breytenbach said: “Right now, we are somewhat encouraged to hear that there is only one remaining issue, the issuing of occupancy certificates. We truly hope no other excuses will pop up and that the department is now getting very serious about wrapping up Phase 3 and prioritising the next group of claimants who need to be restituted urgently as well.”

Ms Breytenbach said the City had to ensure that the units met safety standards before it could issue occupancy certificates and it had been pushing the department to ensure those standards could be met.

“This is a deviation from the original site development plans that the City approved. A process is now being followed to regularise these deviations, as mentioned,” she said.

The District Six community and all claimants have been invited to share any concerns they might have about the Phase 3 project with the Standing Committee on Human Settlements, no later than 3pm on October 27. Email sjones@wcpp.gov.za for more information.

Mavis Alexander, 82, signing the settlement agreement at the land claims office.
Mavis Alexander during her younger days living in District Six.