District 6 redevelopment will take decades

District Six units under construction at the Phase 3 site between Russel Road and Vogelgezang Street.

It could take 10 to 20 years and cost R11.6 billion to completely redevelop District Six, according to a government draft report.

The report was compiled by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) and its consultants and includes input from the District Six Reference Group.

The DRDLR presented the report, Towards an Implementation Framework for District Six, at the Lands Claims Court in Randburg last Tuesday, February 26 .

It did so after the Western Cape High Court ordered the DRDLR to provide a plan for the redevelopment of 42 hectares of District Six (“Victory for District Six claimants,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, November 29 2018).

This report says it will cost R3.7 billion for restitution duplex row houses; R2.3 billion for restitution apartment units and R5.6 billion for market apartment units.

The report notes some of the problems that could dog the redevelopment, including failure by the state to make subsidies available, insufficient building materials, insufficient project management capabilities and a delay in regulatory approvals.

Shahied Ajam, chairman of the District Six Working Committee, asked why it would take 20 years to redevelop an area like District Six when it took six months to develop Pelican Park.

“We will determine what is good for us, we will determine what is best for us, and we, together, will go out and get those amounts of money. We will get the business partners,” he said.

Mr Ajam said businesses were waiting to invest in District Six.

“We are going to apply for a court date very urgently and challenge this affidavit made by the DRDLR,” he said.

District Six claimants could control their own fate; it was no longer in the hands of government, he said.

“Four elections have gone past, four electoral promises have fallen through the map,” he said.

Chairperson of District Six Reference Group (D6RG), Gerald Elliott, said the report was not a final document.

The D6RG, which represents the “1998” claimants, hoped to have them housed within two years through a plan allowing for simultaneous construction, he said.

The D6RG, he said, still needed to discuss various issues, including budgetary ones, with the government.

“He said the group’s “main objective” was to “bring all our people home in the shortest possible time as many of them are passing away by the day”.

DRLR spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said the department had submitted to court a “holistic developmental plan” that would “require participation and funding by various sector departments and DRDLR”.

She added: “It is our hope that with the assistance of court we will eventually reach a final settlement agreement for the development and resettlement of the District Six claimants community”.