POLITICAL NEWS - We are exceptionally concerned that the recent and continued land invasions at District Six erodes the hope of those seeking to return to their historic home.
This is worsened by the inaction of national government to both address the invasions issue and by its delay in rolling out the housing projects on site.
These reported invasions stand to impact the construction of housing opportunities for claimants and divert financial resources of the City of Cape Town.
The City is currently applying for an interim court interdict with regards to the removal of those who have illegally occupied land parcels in the area. For this reason, I will once again invite the national Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to account to the provincial parliament’s Standing Committee on 17 June 2021.
We trust that the Department will take the opportunity to address the committee on the current status of the project, the challenges that they are facing as well as the measures that in place to address the invasion of land in the area.
This past week, the national Department of Land Reform and Rural development, which is the lead agency on the restitution project, withdrew from accounting to the provincial Standing Committee on Human Settlements regarding the current status and continued delays in the housing development for District Six.
Despite this, the City of Cape Town revealed in the briefing that as of 31 March 2021, 99 informal structures have been erected in District Six. Land invasions took place on 23 properties owned by the City of Cape Town as well as other properties owned by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the Church of the Province of South Africa, amongst others.
Further land invasions have taken place on Freedom Day this past Tuesday.
Land held in trust for land restitution claims are not spared and have been affected by these continued invasions. These land invasions could see the development of housing opportunities in the area delayed even further and force the City of Cape Town to step in and address the issue with its limited funding and mandate.
National government cannot pass the responsibility of illegal land invaders solely on to the City of Cape Town.
But more than this, land invasions cannot be allowed to delay a project where residents have been waiting for more than 20 years to return home. This past month, 108 families were told they would have to wait until then end of May before they would be able to relocate to the area.
And while the completion of the restitution project was originally set for 2023, it has since been shifted to August 2024, which would be nearly 60 years after residents were forcefully evicted from their homes.
We reiterate our call to national government to support the City of Cape Town in protecting properties and land parcels in the area from further invasions, and to accelerate the construction of housing opportunities in District Six for claimants.
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