More delays for District Six Phase 3 restitution

District Six land claimants who were supposed to move back in April now face another hurdle after the date was pushed back to May. These claimants applied for restitution between 1995 and 1998.

The District Six Working Committee (D6WC) is seeking clarity on the Phase 3 restitution process after the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development informed it of a further delay.

District Six land claimants were expected to move in at the end of April, which has now been postponed until May.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is responsible for Phase 3 of the District Six redevelopment: 108 housing units just off Hanover street. There were 24 housing units built for Phase 1 and 115 for Phase 2.

The department said the Covid-19 pandemic had caused the delay.

D6WC spokeswoman Karen Breytenbach said they had been told that the date for claimants to move in had been pushed back from April to May but no specific date in May had been given.

This and other concerns were outlined in a letter the D6WC sent to attorneys acting for Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza.

Among other things, the letter asked when and how the final list of claimants will be published and whether all claimants who have applied for special allocation will be called for an interview with a selection panel.

Ms Breytenbach said: “We have told the government to consider the fact that most of the claimants are elderly, disabled, vulnerable and ill. We do know that the ground units for Phase 3 are disabled-friendly. It is very difficult for these people to move around and go upstairs so we just need to make sure that all the housing is considerate of people’s health and age conditions.”

District Six Working Committee co-chairperson Zahrah Nordien.

D6WC co-chairperson Zahrah Nordien said the pandemic would still be around this year and next “so we are not sure how long claimants will be waiting”.

The elderly and the ill should be allowed to move in first, she said.

“The D6WC needs to see the list of claimants that will move in because we also have a list of claimants with a claim number. We need to know if our D6WC claimants are on the department’s list. This will prevent any conflict, and we need to work together in order for the process to go forward for the sake of the claimants.”

Ms Breytenbach said: “We remain committed to working with the government to see to it that claimants are equitably restituted. We also look forward to a fruitful relationship with the government for years to come.”

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development spokesman Reggie Ngcobo said: “It was largely due to the pandemic which led to the contractor not being able to finish Phase 3 in time. We therefore extended the contractor until the end of May but there is no specific date that we can give out yet.”

He said the municipality also had some final requests regarding the water and electricity in the housing units, and the department hoped to have the homes complete between May and June.

The department would not publish its list of claimants yet, he said, because it was important to “personally engage with the claimants first.”

The architects had worked with the claimants groupings and the municipality when making the decisions on the design of the units, he said.