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Oldest claimant forced to relocate during apartheid passes away at 100

Shariefa Khan’s janazah took place today in Elsies River with her family in attendance. Picture: Wardah Wilkinson

Shariefa Khan’s janazah took place today in Elsies River with her family in attendance. Picture: Wardah Wilkinson

Published Jan 26, 2022

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Cape Town - The oldest District Six claimant, Shariefa Khan, has died at the age of 100 today after experiencing breathing difficulty for a number of hours.

Mrs Khan, also known as "Mama" or "Aunty Riefa," was one of the eldest District Six (D6) claimants forced to relocate to the Cape Flats during the apartheid era.

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Her family came to Cape Town in 1928 and lived in Muizenberg and later Kensington, where her father had the first halaal butchery in the area, before she married her husband, Dawood Khan, an Indian migrant living in District Six.

Extending condolences to the Khan family, District Six Working Committee spokesperson Karen Breytenbach said that they are utterly disappointed at not seeing Mrs Khan’s final wish of restitution being fulfilled.

"The D6WC championed her cause and fought hard for her final restitution, which was fraught with difficulty. We thank Mrs Khan for fighting the good fight until the end and supporting our court case, which will bring restitution to many families like hers. The D6WC remains committed to seeking restitution for Mrs Khan’s children, who are also elderly.

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“Mrs Khan would have turned 101 on April 25, 2022. Last April, she signed the papers to receive her new apartment in D6, as part of Phase 3 of the restitution process. Unfortunately, Mrs. Khan never received final permission to move in, as the national government was still in the process of fixing safety concerns and defects in the buildings,” she said.

Jeff Alexander, who is Mavis Alexander's son, one of the other claimants who is also expected to return to D6, said that there was no transparency and all the D6 claimants are in the dark as to why the keys are not given to them for occupation.

“It's been one excuse after the other, and while the government and provincial government are playing political games, our aged and infirm claimants are dying off.

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"All Mrs Khan wanted was to return to D6, where she had been happy before apartheid forced removals. The government had the power to make her last wishes come true, but they have failed her dismally.

“In my opinion, the government, namely the land claims department, has the go-ahead from the COCT to allow claimants to move into their units, but they are not doing so, and in my opinion, more pressure should be put on them from the human settlements oversight committee. We can’t let our people suffer more degradation and humiliation from the present regime like the apartheid regime," said Alexander.

Khan’s janazah (funeral) took place today in Elsies River in the presence of her family.

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