News from - Cape Times
The District Six area, where tenants of 17 historic cottages face eviction, has been graded as a heritage site and the owners will have to get permission from heritage authorities for any sort of development, according to the SA Heritage Resource Agency (Sahra).

Some of the last residents of District Six held a rally in the area on Sunday to protest their pending eviction.

The deadline for tenants to move out of the cottages was on February 28 this year.

The cottages situated between Pontac, Nelson and Aspeling streets are owned by Omargee Mohamed Omar.

The land was initially inherited by Omar and his seven brothers under their father Essop Mohammed Omar's Will Trust. Omargee was the only brother to become a trustee.

As the sole trustee, Omar has the right to sell his property. It would be the new owner's prerogative whether or not to keep the tenants.

However, Sahra's national public relations officer Solayman Ebrahim said the site has already been graded by the heritage council as a "grade one" heritage site. This meant that declaration of it as a national heritage site would follow soon.

"It's already been graded by the council. The cottages fall within (the protected site). The cottages are also immensely significant culturally.

"The buildings are remnants of what was built there.

"They still have original people living there. Its unfortunate how they might be evicted. Any application for development must come through Sahra and our provincial heritage council," Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim said now that the site has been graded, Sahra would work on a conservation management plan "to retain what makes it so important".

"That gives us about two years or so. There would also be a public participation process (should there be any applications for development)," said Ebrahim.

He said the Sahra would not be in a position to buy the properties from the trustees.

"The department of land affairs' commission for land restitution will deal with that.

"But anyone interested in buying the properties should acquaint themselves with the country's heritage laws. In a nutshell, the heritage council decides what is of heritage significance," he said.

Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign chairman Ashraf Cassiem said he has sent requests to Sahra and national land commission to intervene.

"We have requested the national land commissioner to buy (the cottages) and Sahra to play a part in declaring it a heritage site. Sahra says they want to assist but are still figuring out how. We had a debate (with land commission and Sahra) but nothing was ever resolved. Everyone is just talking.

"All those elderly people want, is to die there," he said.

  • This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Times on April 24, 2007

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