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District Six: District Six: The CPUT Issue

District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the process of removals and marginalisation had begun.



CPUT is situated on the slopes of District Six and have been at loggerheads with the Distric Six Museum abot land development. CPUT has acknowledged that it needs to be more aligned with the needs of the District Six community- past, present, future and imagined. It has committed to working closely with the Museum in ensuring that such awareness filters through to all of its main spheres: that of research, teaching and learning, and social upliftment through Community Engagement/Service-Learning projects 


It has also realised that its work in the academic disciplines needs to be aligned with current thinking about memorialisation, restitution and the needs of an existing and changing community.


CPUT: People Demand Payment

‘Pay us back for District 6’

Cape Town - Victims of the District Six forced removals want “insensitive” post-1966 property owners in the area either to sell their land back to the state for restitution purposes or to pay some of the profits from their businesses to the dispossessed.

They also want the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, which occupies some 75 hectares - or half - of the original 150ha suburb, to provide free tuition or bursaries in lieu of compensation to qualifying descendants of the more than 60000 people removed from District Six after it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act 51 years ago today.

As things stand, land restitution in District Six is limited to the several properties that make up 42ha of land granted for the purpose by the City in 2000. Some of it has been developed for former residents, and a third phase of housing is under construction.

he District Six Walk of Remembrance was held on Saturday to mark 51 years since 60 000 residents were removed from the area under the Group Areas Act. picture: Ayanda Ndamane
File photo

New efforts are focusing attention on a further 33ha, some vacant, some occupied. This initiative is being spearheaded by the District Six Working Committee.

Its chairperson, Shahied Ajam, told the Weekend Argus that a more comprehensive plan for District Six could be the “catalyst to end racism and exclusion”.

“But we need the buy-in of everybody, including our affluent white brothers and sisters who have got rich on the backs of the people of District Six. We say, thank you for saying sorry; now ‘do’ sorry. Bring your resources, let’s do this together.”

The demands for more land and wider restorative justice are contained in a document sent to Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti by the committee. It specifically mentions the prestigious AAA-grade office park, The Boulevard, in Searle Street. The office park, which has a Woodstock address, is on the Table Bay side of the Nelson Mandela Boulevard, but the committee insists it is on land that was once part of District Six.

The committee says other unnamed property owners, with the City and province, own or occupy 33ha which have been left out of the restitution process so far.

The document says: “The current land owners of the undeveloped and developed residential and commercial land in District 6 which do not benefit the community socially and economically should consider selling the land back to the (state) or face expropriation; or they could initiate a self-imposed process of restitution - whereby they give back either as a restitution levy based upon the premise that they occupy land that belongs to a previously dispossessed community or, in the form of a portion of their income instead of heartlessly continuing to exploit the land of the people of District 6 for their own interests.”

The document adds: “Perhaps this option can also be used as a compromise before the drastic step of expropriation is taken. If the state were to impose restitution levies or sharing of company dividends, surely this can be said to be striking a balance between the interests of all parties concerned.”

The committee says of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (built originally for white students only) that it “cannot ignore that this complex now represents a learning institution open to all races and nationalities”. It does not agree with claimants who insist CPUT should move, “and instead suggest that the learning faculty should remain”.

“Fortunately there are options available to alleviate this concession: firstly, the land accommodating the residences of the campus must be considered for restitution purposes; and secondly, CPUT could provide much-needed tertiary education to affected children in the townships at zero or greatly reduced costs. It would certainly demonstrate CPUT’s commitment to ‘giving back’.”

The District Six Working Committee hopes its renewed efforts to push for restitution and restorative justice will spur similar initiatives for the thousands forced out of their homes in areas like Claremont, Newlands and Constantia.

Two events today marking the 51st anniversary of the 1966 proclamation will underscore continuing demands - and dissatisfaction over the slow and patchy process of restitution in District Six.

It has been a process bedevilled by disputes, protracted administrative processes, slow progress in confirming claims and getting housing off the ground and, most recently, construction obstacles and the administrative turmoil caused by the Constitutional Court throwing out the flawed Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act (intended to create a new window for claims).

The District Six Museum in Buitenkant Street this morning hosted the annual “walk of remembrance” through the district to reinforce its call to fast-track the declaration of the area as a National Heritage Site to prevent insensitive development.

The District Six Working Committee is hosting a mass meeting and lunch at the Woodstock town hall to deepen support for its bid to reopen negotiations on restitution.

Weekend Argus

CPUT: The Campus

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Set on the historic slopes of District Six, the Cape Town Campus is flanked by the city’s most notable landmark – Table Mountain. This campus is home to the Faculty of Business, which is the institution’s largest faculty, and the Faculty of Informatics and Design. Various courses from the Faculties of Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Health and Wellness Sciences are also offered on the Cape Town Campus.


Physical address
Corner of Keizersgracht and Tennant Street

Postal address
PO Box 652
Cape Town

Contact Cape Town Campus
Tel: +27 21 460 3911

Contact Cape Town Campus Security
Tel: +27 21 460 3122
Tel: +27 21 460 3631


Campus  map

CPUT: People Demand Payment


University of the Western Cape,

Robert Sobukwe Road,



Tel: 021 959 2946