Controversy has arisen over the repayment of monies to a some District Six, after it emerged that only those who made financial contributions for their homes within the last four years were being refunded. This comes despite the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (RDLR) indicating that housing for the new phase of development would be distributed to claimants without any cost.
At the centre of the issue is the District Six Redevelopment Trust (D6 Trust), to whom monies were reportedly paid to. Angry claimants took to the Palestine Museum, founded by D6 Trust Chairperson Anwar Nagia on Sunday in protest of the non-repayment of funds. Confusion has also surrounded the protest, with earlier suggestions that it was being held in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
However, newly elected District Six Community Forum chairperson, Asa Salie sought to provide more clarity on the reasons behind the protest.
“Nobody has come forward to tell them (the claimants) why they haven’t been paid, and other people have. This is the jist of why people stood there with placards,” she said.
“We are asking, whose houses are free and whose aren’t. This is a divide and rule strategy, but from whom we don’t know.”
She reiterated the calls from claimants for more clarity to be provided on the current situation, as to why not all were refunded.
Responding to the protest, Dr Nagia suggested the incident was case of “ambush marketing”, in light of the fact that the Palestine Museum was hosting a book launch at the time.
“I think the protest by people to use that particular instance to ambush market is actually completely disgraceful. We don’t believe the poor Palestinian people and the issues of literature have any connection to people protesting,” he said, however adding that it was the prerogative of the community to protest should they wish.
According to Nagia, Rural Development Minister, Gugile Nkwinti had previously suggested that the budget of the
department was not sufficient enough to provide homes entirely free for claimants. Hence claimants in the second phase were required to make some form of monetary contribution. However, he stressed that all of those funds had been successfully repaid to them.
“We also put pain to the lies of certain people saying that monies were stolen and abused,” he said.
As for the older claimants seeking repayment, Nagia said that some 24 families had originally moved in to the area in 2004 via the D6 Trust, and were required to make a financial contribution. But due to the project being underfunded, Nagia claimed that his familiy had personally contributed towards the building of the homes.
“We ourselves are owed over R180 000 for 11 years now. If the minister so wishes to return monies to people that made a contribution to their homes 11 years ago, then certainly they (claimants) must speak to the minister. It has nothing to do with the D6 Trust, who actually facilitated and made this all possible,” he said.
He further lambasted the “insanity” of certain opportunistic groups within the restitution process, suggesting this was a contributing factor to the D6 Trust taking a temporary back step from the process.
“The process has worsened. This betrayal is going to take place at a larger scale, and all people of District Six are still going to languish in these god-forsaken townships which they have been subjected to, because of this insanity,” he said.
The City of Cape Town has in recent days also risked the ire of D6 claimants, after it emerged that it would seek to privatize the iconic Good Hope Centre, converting it into a film studio. Because of the historical significance of the centre, the D6 Forum has sought to oppose the move by launching a petition against it.
“That Good Hope Centre is the site where the first market was, and now it is not going to be used anymore. 150 hectares was District Six, of which 42 hectares have been given back. At present there are only 18 hectares for the development of thousands of people still to come back,” Salie said, adding that the site could in fact be used to a house a sizable percentage of returning claimants. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)