Dept urged to speed up District 6 restitution after passing of oldest claimant

Shariefa Khan was 100-years-old when she passed away on Wednesday.

Some of the homes being prepared for the land claimants returning to District Six. Picture: Graig-Lee Smith/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Housing activists are pleading with the Department of Land Reform to urgently address restitution in District Six, following the death of the oldest surviving land claimant.

Shariefa Khan was 100-years-old when she passed away on Wednesday.

As part of a few dozen people meant to move back last year, she was given the keys to her District Six home in April.

However, no claimants have yet been able to move in or secure the rights to their homes, given building safety hazards that the department's construction team still needs to address.

This includes stairways with no banister and shower facilities that are inaccessible to disabled people.

It's nearing the 56th anniversary of when thousands of people of colour were forcibly removed from the suburb after it was declared a whites-only area by the apartheid regime.

Spokesperson for the District Six Working Committee, Karen Breytenbach, said that Khan was robbed of her wish to die at home by delays that could've been remedied before her passing.

"Mrs Khan would have been 101 on the 25th of April this year and the fact that she hasn't been restituted is just so heartbreaking, it's just a stain on the part of government, on their reputation and on the promises that they've made. We just implore them to treat the claimants with the utmost respect and dignity and to move faster," Breytenbach said.