Anniversary of the declaration of District Six as a white area on 11 February 1966

Speech by Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town

Good morning, and welcome to everyone gathered here today.

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity, as the Mayor of Cape Town, to speak to you today in commemoration and remembrance of the important historic significance of 11 February 1966.

This day is an important day for many reasons: for reflecting on our past, both the wrongs and injustices, as well as for acknowledging the good and the positive developments that have taken place over the years.

One of those reasons to celebrate this date is that on 11 February 1990 our former President, Nelson Mandela, was released from the Victor Verster prison in Drakenstein, and later on that day spoke to more than 50 000 people gathered on the parade, just outside these walls, from the balcony of the City Hall.

We have commemorated Tata Madiba’s historic speech with a statue in his likeness on the balcony of City Hall. The speech that Madiba delivered that day was one of hope, one of unity, of working together, and of looking forward to a better future for all.

I would like us today to remember that call for working together and for unity, to achieve a better future.

This day is also a painful reminder for many, a day that stretches far back before Tata Madiba’s speech to 11 February 1966. In the years before that day this community, District Six, was a happy place. It was a warm place where neighbours knew one another and a sense of pride and community was strong. It is that time that I believe we should focus on, the time before the wrongs of Apartheid ripped apart families, friends, and entire communities.

I am deeply saddened that some of the original residents have passed away while waiting to return to their home, like Mrs Wagner, who at 94 still hoped to come home. Let us put the politics aside and work together so that no other residents are denied their right to come home.

It will never be possible to return those stolen decades, but together we can work towards seeing that you and future generations get to enjoy this space and the sense of community that you once enjoyed here.

I believe it is in the spirit of trying to bring back that unity, that strength of community and that pride of place for your children and your grandchildren that we should all be working together � national government, provincial government, local government, community organisations and representative bodies.

I know you have been working for many years to start rebuilding your community here and that some have already returned when, on 11 February 2004, Tata Madiba handed over the keys to the first returning residents.

You have an opportunity to ensure that your legacy has a home in District Six, both the memory of the pain that you and your families suffered, and the joy that you remember before that period.

I would like to offer a space in our City Hall for everyone to come together in agreeing upon and implementing a workable solution to return your properties to you. If there is another venue that you would rather use, please engage with my office. I want to make sure you have a space where you can work, lay out your plans and plot the way forward.

Cape Town is a united City. It is a beautiful city, and I want to see you sitting on your stoep, looking up at this magnificent mountain or out over the harbour, in peace, sipping on a cup of tea and taking comfort in being home where you belong. This City is committed to helping you wherever we can.

There are many speakers here today, so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. So again, I would like to thank you for inviting me here today to be part of your commemoration. I feel very privileged to be included, and I hope that we can work together to bring life, colour, joy, and community back to District Six.

Thank you.

Source: City Of Cape Town

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