Land Claims commissioner: District Six land restitution a complex matter

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights along with the Rural Development and Land Reform Minister and several others have been taken to court by land claimants.

District Six land claimants at a meeting held by the District 6 Working Committee. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Chief Land Claims commissioner has defended the two-decade wait for land restitution in District Six, saying that the matter is complex.

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, along with the Rural Development and Land Reform Minister and several others, have been taken to court by land claimants.

Hundreds of former residents have been waiting for years to return to the neighbourhood they were forcibly removed from during apartheid.

On 20 March 2019, the Land Claims Court ruled that the state has violated the rights of District Six land claimants by failing to provide restitution.

Nine hundred and sixty-nine claimants, 80% of those who were promised a home in 1998, are still waiting for the state to deliver.

One hundred and thirty-nine units have been built on a redeveloped section of District Six, and 108 are still under construction.

WATCH: 'When can we go back?': District Six land claimants seek restitution

Chief Land Claims Commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo said that the two-decade delay is not for a lack of trying.

“It has become a very complex matter and it’s also a question of who is entitled to what size and at what cost. But in terms of restitution, as a commission, we acknowledge the rights that the beneficiaries are entitled to.”

Ntloko-Gobodo said that it is not only a matter of finding the funding to redevelop the land to accommodate all the claimants.

“How do we structure the development in District Six such that we are able to develop within the confines of the resources that we have versus what the community say they want as restoration in District Six.”

She added that the matter is further complicated because the state must figure out which of the claimants actually owned the land they were removed from and which were just tenants.

Claimants have brought a contempt of court application against the state, which will be heard in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)