Before the declaration of District Six as a white group area in 1966, the vibrant part of the city was inhabited by approximately forty-thousand people. Within this historically significant urban environment the community enjoyed a rich social and cultural life. With the beginning of forced removals in 1968, communities and families came to be divided and scattered across the Cape Flats. With the removal of families completed by 1980, a major part of the City’s historic built fabric was destroyed.
From the mid-1980’s community organisations opposed the redevelopment of the blighted area as a ‘white group area’. While some building development, including the construction of the Cape Technikon, occurred, community opposition prevented the full development of the area.
It was out of this community struggle that the District Six Beneficiary Trust was born. With the proclamation of the Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994) the opportunity arose for communities who were dispossessed to submit land claims. More than 2 500 ex-residents (including landowners and tenants) have lodged claims of whom approximately 1500 claimants have been verified and are expected to be re-accommodated within District Six when it is redeveloped.
This redevelopment of District Six is no ordinary ‘development’. It is about allowing for the return of a community that was forcibly removed more than thirty years ago and for the reconstruction of a quarter in the city center. In doing so, it is an urban project that deals primarily with social justice. Redevelopment here is thus inextricably linked to the act of restitution in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act (No.22 of 1994) through which the right of a community to live in the heart of the city will be restored.
In order to physically rebuild District Six it is necessary to follow the approptiate formal planning and developmental procedures. The route that has been chosen is the “Package of Plans” approach which begins with a Conceptual Framework which is followed by a Development Framework then Precinct Plans and finally buildings plans. All the proposals and frameworks are available on the Documents Page of the website.
While some houses have already been built, we are currently at the Development Framework (DF) stage. The DF is supported by a Business Plan and both are currently out for consultation. Once these plans have been approved it will be possible to move onto the next stages of the process and with the building of new houses.
Please visit the District Six Museum Website for more information on the area and its history.