Cape’s land claimants become property developers

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

As part of a land claims settlement, a few hundred families from Atlantis received R100,000 each and shares in a R1-billion property development project officially launched yesterday.

Rural development and land reform minister, Gugile Nkwinti, led a sod-turning ceremony on the claimant’s land in Richmond Park in Milnerton suburb yesterday.

The 401 claimants were forcibly removed from the land during apartheid and had to settle in Atlantis, about 40km from central Cape Town. In 1996 they lodged a land claim, which was concluded in 2007.

Gerald Beziek, vice-chairperson of a committee representing the claimants, said they were then told the vacant land could not be used for building residential properties. It had been earmarked for use as a cemetery.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said at the event yesterday the City of Cape Town “approved rezoning of the Richmond land (for light industrial use) in accordance with the city’s commitment to redress, but also to enable possibilities”.

“Today we are reversing what was one of apartheid’s most divisive laws, the Group Areas Act, which separated people and communities along racial lines and saw thousands of families forcibly removed from their homes,” she said.

Beziek said the land reform department then assisted them to find a property developer who could assist in effectively using the land totaling 835,000 square-metres.

“We are settled in other communities. We have houses. We had a lawyer to guide us through the process. We are the land owners and found a property developer who will build on the land,” said Beziek.

He said the property developer – comprising four private investors – would also run a skills training programme for claimant’s unemployed families.

He said the developer paid each of the 401 claimants R100,000 to “give them a taste of what’s to come”.

As landowners, claimants would own a 25% share in the development and earn an income from its future profits via rentals.

Daniel Filippi, sales director for the development’s consortium, said four businesses have put up a R1-billion investment and formed the Richmond Park Development Company.

Over the next five to 10 years they plan to build commercial properties, including a mall, light industrial buildings and a business park.

Filippi said the project value would stand at up to R7-billion once completed.

“This is prime property. It is very well located. It’s near the city centre, the West Coast and highways. Residential properties are definitely going to rise in value as this development grows,” he said.

Residential neighbours around the land have raised concerns about the impact of traffic, its visual impact and industrial activity on their doorstep.

The Richwood Ratepayers Association, which oversees Richmond Park and other parts of Milnerton, said in a statement yesterday they did not object to the development though.

Nkwinti said the Richmond property plan was in line with the department’s rural economy transformation model. He said the latter encourages claimant’s ownership of land development projects.

ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman also attended yesterday’s ceremony.

He said: “It’s a celebration of good over evil. We always maintained reconciliation was not only about sitting in restaurants with white people.

“It was also about addressing cases where people were evicted off land. This is a poor coloured community that will now benefit in an equitable way.”


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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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