Cape Town – As the restitution process in parts of Cape Town such as District Six inches forward, many of the victims of apartheid’s forced removals in the Greater Simon’s Town area are feeling forgotten or, worse, ignored.
On Saturday, at a meeting of the Simon’s Town Museum’s Phoenix Committee – the organisation that voluntarily represents those who were forcibly removed from areas of the South Peninsula town including Redhill, Seaforth, Dido Valley and Luyolo – members of the community repeatedly claimed that they had been “totally ignored and disregarded”.
In a letter to the City, the committee said neither they nor their members were contacted and also that the City had ignored the ongoing land claims process with regard to the ongoing redevelopment of Dido Valley.
The area is undergoing a R135million redevelopment which will be home to 600 beneficiaries, including 100 land claimants from Dido Valley and Luyolo living in Ocean View and Gugulethu respectively. A limited number of units will also be made available to applicants from all over the city who have been on the housing waiting list the longest.
Suzette Farmer, chairperson of the committee, said: “The redevelopment (of Dido Valley) is bitter-sweet. On the one hand its is a long-overdue restitution outcome for the people of Luyolo who were the first to be evicted in 1965, while on the other hand, former Dido Valley residents have been completely excluded from any conversation and yet we are known to the City.”
Cecilia Thiem, from the City’s human settlements department, said the Dido Valley project was being managed as a housing project with a restitution component managed separately by the Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC).
“The RLCC is responsible for verifying and providing the names of valid (approved) land claimants. The city is not mandated to deal with restitution matters and therefore does not have the authority or responsibility to trace former residents,” said Thiem in a letter to the committee.
Before the forced removals of 1968 and 1969, Dido Valley was home to 62 families. Once Simon’s Town was declared a whites-only area, the families in those homes were evicted and moved to an area called Slangkop, now known as Ocean View, which was established in 1968.
Maryann Kindo, treasurer of the committee, said: “Our issue is not with any of the communities benefiting from the development, or wherever they come from. Our issue is the process and as we say in our correspondence (with the City), our exclusion from any conversations.
“We are not saying we also want housing there. We are asking why we were not included? Why are we ignored?
"We should have been part of those conversations because Dido Valley was perfect for restitution."
The Phoenix Committee did not submit any land restitution claims. Claims that were submitted were all done individually to the land claims commission.
Thiem said: “It’s important to note that when housing projects commence, they do not target specific areas or try to find beneficiaries.
“All projects must utilise the housing waiting list (database) and the onus rests entirely on beneficiaries to apply and ensure their details are up to date so that the City can locate them when a project commences,” she said.
Thiem told the committee that far from ignoring them, the City has been very active on the public participation front, advertising events in the local newspaper (the False Bay Echo) and putting out regular notices and press releases.
Farmer said: “We were made aware of an invitation to a public participation process regarding the development in Dido Valley, but then we found that the scope of the participation was restricted to street naming.”
The names of four prominent personalities from forced removals in Dido Valley, dancer Christopher Kindo, artist Peter Clarke, activist Albert Thomas and sculptor Frank Brown, have been suggested for streets in the redevelopment. However, the Kindo family sent a letter to the City stating: “We do not want his name used in the Dido Valley area where his community has been ignored.”