15 February 2011
President Jacob Zuma has handed over 44 houses to residents in Cape Town’s historic District Six suburb, in an ongoing process to give proper housing to the victims of apartheid’s forced removals.
Zuma, who attended the “Second Homecoming” ceremony on Friday, said that the handover was testimony that the government’s land reform and restitution process was “yielding results”.
“District Six in Cape Town, like Sophiatown in Johannesburg, Umkhumbane (Cato Manor) in Durban, and Marabastad in Pretoria, bear the heart-wrenching scars of the apartheid system,” Zuma said. “We always promise and always come around to fulfil it . it has taken time, but we have come around to fulfil the promise . the time for healing has come.”
Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti and Minster of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale were some of the government officials who attended the event.
‘A life of dignity’
Manuel, who grew up in the area, said that the restitution process should be speeded up. He said that the claimants wanted “a life of dignity” and that the government “should hurry up on District Six”.
Nkwinti said that funds had been made available for phase two of the project, but that phase three “was a challenge”.
He said that he had met Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and they had agreed that the people of District Six needed the cooperation between the national and provincial government.
Applied ‘over 20 years ago’
One of the beneficiaries, Yusuf Kader, 50, whose family was removed from the area when he was aged seven, said that coming back was a way of “restoring the dignity of our parents”.
Getting a house there had not been easy, he said, indicating that he first applied for it over 20 years ago “and the papers got lost and we had to apply again in 1995”.
Kader, who lives in Athlone, said that he expected to move into his three-bed-roomed house in the next three months.
He said that the houses were being subsidised by the government and beneficiaries would pay between R190 000 and R250 000 depending on the size of the unit.