Nkoana-Mashabane regrets the delays in restitution

Minister for Rural Development and Land Affairs Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has conceded that government does not have a concrete plan for the redevelopment of District Six, in Cape Town.

Instead, she asked the Land Claims Court on Friday to grant another “three months-plus” to comply with an earlier court order that she present a holistic plan for redevelopment of District Six to court, with time frames and how it would be funded.

The District Six Working Committee filed an application for the minister to appear in court, asking that she be declared in contempt for failure to deliver the conceptual plan to the Land Claims Court in Randburg in February.

On Friday, the minister reiterated that her department alone cannot bear the cost for the redevelopment.

Nkoana-Mashabane expressed regret that the order was not “fully complied with”. 

She said her department could only afford R351 million per annum for District Six, while redevelopment would eventually cost R11billion, of which R2.4bn would be needed to provide housing for the 1000 remaining claimants. “We must all come to the party,” she said.

The minister repeatedly said the government was looking for partnerships with the private sector to plug the funding gap.

“This call (for restitution) is not only made in District Six, but in all corners of South Africa.”

Nkoana-Mashabane asked for a further “three months-plus” in which she would report back to court. But this drew murmurs from the courtroom, packed with mostly elderly claimants.

Acting Judge of the Land Claims Court Tembeka Ngcukaitobi wanted to know why a further three months is needed, asking if this was a “thumb suck”. Earlier he questioned how the department arrived at R2bn for the redevelopment for the 1000 odd claimants, to which Nkoana-Mashabane replied it was derived from work with their “experts”.

She said the cost of one unit for a restituted family in District Six would be R1.5m.

Geoff Budlender SC, acting on behalf of the District Six Working Committee asked the minister whether she accepted responsibility for the failure to comply with the earlier court order to which she eventually replied: “I regret the way we conducted business, but I did not wilfully ignore my responsibility as a minister.”

Budlender earlier reminded Nkoana-Mashabane that he was a former director-general of the department she now heads, saying he understood the difficulties.

Judge Ngcukaitobi said between 1998 and 2000, only 139 units had been built in District Six. He said this was a 20-year delay for claimants.

“We regret the fact that it has taken so long,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Weekend Argus

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