District Six Museum

Submission by District Six Museum

Stop the sale of government land at Tafelberg School, Sea Point

We wish to remember

So that we can all

Together and by ourselves

Rebuild a city

Which belongs to all of us,

In which all of us can live,

Not as races but as people[1]

Dear Premier Zille,

The memory of forced removals in the City of Cape Town harnessed by the District Six Museum (D6M) in the course of its work, has fuelled a powerful need to reverse the legacies of the Group Areas Act and to create city that acknowledges the strengthening power of diversity. In this, we need to avoid the mapping of a city that entrenches the historical divides of the past.

As a result of apartheid forced removals, many ties were severed. Practical reasons of poor roads and unreliable transport, restricted peoples’ access to the city and surrounds; emotional scars kept others away and over time the city experienced an exodus of black people for whom the city centre had formed a crucial part of their lives. Coming to town became a matter of earning a living, leaving township homes at the crack of dawn to navigate difficult transport systems, and returning late in the evening. Social and cultural lives were altered and diminished.

Homes are meant to be places of refuge, recovery and restoration, especially when life circumstances are tough and challenging. Social commentator Bell Hooks speaks of the importance of what she calls the ‘homeplace’: ‘Despite the brutal reality of racial apartheid, of domination, one’s homeplace was the one site where one could freely confront the issue of humanisation, where one could resist’.

She is referring to a period in American history which resembled apartheid. In this post-apartheid period that we now occupy, the legacies of the ‘brutal reality of racial apatheid’ expressed through racialised spatial planning, remains one of our largest challenges. Life and living circumstances for many people have not changed and the daily grind of eking out livelihoods continues to be hard. Homes as places of refreshment and humanisation are still a distant dream for many.

The living conditions for many domestic workers in the Sea Point area are appalling. Long working hours make commuting on a daily basis, unsafe and near impossible. Even if it were safe, their homes would become mere dormitories which they would be able to spend very few hours, only to be back on the road to work again.

Here is an opportunity which presents itself for making homes into humanising spaces. This is an opportunity which would be a travesty of justice to miss. It is an opportunity to not only make a difference in the lives of the domestic workers of Sea Point, but also, in small measure, to address the inequalities existing in the physical fabric of our city. It is an opportunity to make affordable housing available to others who under apartheid were removed from the city and surrounding areas because of their racial classification, and after apartheid continue to be excluded both by economics and a resistance to diversity harboured by those who have largely been beneficiaries of apartheid.

We call upon the Provincial Government to seize this opportunity to contribute to transformation of our city in this way

We are adding our organisational voice to the call for ‘Land for people not for profit’.

Bonita Bennett


District Six Museum

25A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town


021 – 466 7200

7 June 2016


[1] From text on panel at entrance to the Museum at number 25A Buitenkant Street


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