South African
South African Flag
Nation Wide Airlines
Visa Office
Travellers Visas
Symbolic homecoming for District Six elders

FORMER DISTRICT 6 RESIDENTS CELEBRATE AS THEY RETURN TO DISTRICT 6. Dan Ndzabela, 82, holds an etching of his former home in Cape Town's District 6 during a ceremony to celebrate the return of people forcibly removed from the area under Apartheid, February 11, 2004. The once vibrant multi-cultural community was declared a slum, and earmarked for whites before it was bulldozed in the mid 1970's. İREUTERS/MikeHutchings

In a windswept but joyous ceremony, former president Nelson Mandela last Wednesday handed over symbolic keys to the first two returnees to Cape Town's District Six. Ebrahim Murat, 87, and Dan Ndzabela, 82, will be the first of an estimated 4,000 homeowners to re-settle in the area over the next 36 months.

District Six was declared white under the Group Areas Act on February 11, 1967, and by 1982, 60,000 people had been relocated to settlements on the Cape Flats, their former homes flattened by bulldozers. More than a thousand people, including a slew of largely African National Congress dignitaries, gathered at Chapel Street in District Six on Wednesday for what was billed as the "homecoming of the elders".

Murat and Ndzabela cut red ribbons across the front doors of their still-unfinished townhouses, before receiving their symbolic glass keys from Mandela. "I'm very happy indeed to be here and to be able to give you keys so that you can now settle in peace and permanently in your homes, without any threat that you will be removed from your houses as happened many years ago," said Mandela. He was also presented with a glass key. Wednesday was also the anniversary of his release from imprisonment in 1990.

As the wind whipped up grit from the building site, he, the two beneficiaries, Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, Western Cape Finance MEC Ebrahim Rassool and the chairman of the District Six Beneficiary Trust Anwah Nagia, all signed twin scrolls of honour. "I'm happy now ... It means to me a victory," Ndzabela, who was forcibly moved to Nyanga in 1959, even before the Group Areas declaration, told Sapa.

"Number one, I'm back home. Secondly, I'll see Table Mountain and I'll see over the sea to Robben Island. That's where our heroes were jailed.

"Table Mountain is important to me because it brings the tourists to visit our place, and they learn how we live in South Africa: as a rainbow nation we live together,"

Earlier, as they waited for the ceremony to start, some of the women in the audience danced and sang, including the song "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you." "I feel beautiful: can't you hear me singing all the time?" said an exuberant Mareldia Johnson, 60, another of the former District Six residents who will be moving back.

"Can't you see how happy we are? District Six was always this happy. When the people were together they used to sing and dance. They used to stand on the street corners and sing." Asked if she thought a revamped District Six would be different, she said: "The houses will be more beautiful, because there were a lot of people living in one house )in the old days) but the spirit is going to still be there. That will never go away, never."

Earlier on Wednesday, in his reply to the debate on his state of the nation address, President Thabo Mbeki told the National Assembly that much had been achieved in South Africa's first decade of democracy. "In this context, we rejoice with those of our people who today will be returning to their beloved District Six," he said.

With an apparent eye on the coming elections, the ANC took full advantage of the "homecoming", plastering central Cape Town in the days ahead of the event with posters proclaiming the return was "consolidating our victory".


Biltong, boerewors, and all SA goodies. Click here to visit our website.

Previous Articles
SA's highest court is open for business

ANC won't change Constitution - Mbeki

Gauteng taxi drivers' march has results

Charlize is 'pure gold'

Tutu attacks Catholic condom ban

South Africa votes on April 14th

Mbeki calls for peaceful elections

Charlize wins best actress award

'Be more positive about South Africa'

ANC election manifesto criticised

Mbeki lashes out at failure to address root cause of Zimbabwe crisis

Mbeki risks African Renaissance

Stars wow audience at 46664 concert

700,000 receive land since '94

Ernie's sights on a showdown

Poor show at registration weekend

South Africans urged to vote

SA's silence on Zim slammed

South Africa 3rd in All Africa Games

Justice Minister Maduna set to quit

Mbeki confident of a Springbok Rugby World Cup 2003 Victory

Madiba opens world's first space age school in Soweto

South Africans abroad get the vote

South Africa's information dirt road

Achmat takes first antiretrovirals

Mbeki gets CCTV cameras rolling in Khayelitsha

Criticism of apartheid lawsuits

Bafokeng king takes the throne

SA celebrates Women's Day

Aids Alert

Mining deal a vindication of labour market policy: Mdladlana

Party ends with 'Madiba Jive'

Mbeki Coup

Mbeki must act on Zim: Bush