Going home: Claimants get their land back in exclusive Bishopscourt
A total of 86 Cape Town land claimants will finally "get their land back" in one of the most exclusive suburbs in the Mother City.
After a protracted battle for land restitution, the Protea Village Communal Property Association will go home.
On Thursday afternoon Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille presided over a ceremonial hand-over of 8.5ha of land worth about R100-million in Bishopscourt.
The claimants were a part of a group removed between 1966 and 1969 under the Group Areas Act and now the families mostly live on the Cape Flats.
Chairman of the association Cedric van Dieman said they are overjoyed.
He said they were planning to build between 10 and 14 free-standing houses and release them on to the market to raise funds to subsidise homes for the 86 families.
The homes will be built in Bishopscourt, home to some of the richest South Africans.
Cecilia Bosman, 70, is "proud and happy" to finally be moving back to her "home town".
"[Our community] was a really loving family, never fighting; [there was] never rape. We knew each other when we walked in the road at night time," said Bosman.
"I was 17 when I moved from here, I'm now 70. We are very glad that we're coming back. It won't be the same, but we will at least for the last few years enjoy our lives," she said.
A 66-year-old resident, known only as Petronella, was removed when she was 18. She said she missed the "neighbourly environment" that the community used to have.
"It was gorgeous. Everyone was friendly. If you needed something you could knock on your neighbour's door," said Petronella.
Billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe bought a R69-million home in the suburb in 2014. Land prices alone go for tens of millions of rand.
A 4296m² piece of vacant land is on the market for R19.9-million.
"The land that we are getting back today [Thursday] is land that belongs to the city," said Van Dieman.
He said another erf, owned by the Department of Public Works, was yet to be transferred to them.
"What we want to do on that land is an educational facility and then also, 10 to 14 freehold stands which will sell in the open market. That is to cross-subsidise our project," said Van Dieman.
He said their plans were still subject to geotechnical studies and would go through the city's public participation processes to get approval for land use rights.
"We are hoping that [the project] will materialise within the next four years," he said.
Van Dieman, now 67, lives in Lotus River but he said other claimants live in places like Grassy Park, Steenberg and Manenberg after they were moved by the apartheid government.
He said many of the older folks who would be beneficiaries have since died.
"In terms of having to pay rates when we live there, we have an undertaking by the city that we will have a 10-year rates holiday. So for 10 years, we will not pay rates. That will be some relief," he said.
De Lille's spokesman, Zara Nicholson, said the association was still to go through various legislative processes, including rezoning and land use rights.