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This is an extract from the address delivered by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, at the sod-turning ceremony for the Dido Valley Housing Project which took place earlier today, 26 July 2016. It will house 600 families, 100 of whom are land restitution claimants who were forcibly removed from Simon’s Town and moved to Gugulethu in 1965.

We are here to celebrate a new chapter in the history of Dido Valley.

It has taken us way too long to get here.

The commitment was made more than 20 years ago, and we are finally at this juncture where progress is no longer is possible, but will soon be visible.

I want to thank the Red Hill Development Forum for their years of perseverance and for never giving up hope for a better life for their families and fellow community members.People like Mr Luyanda Lombo, who has served on the development forum for 15 years.

He can now finally look forward to moving into his home with his partner.

Similarly, Cynthia Manzana, who has also served on the forum for more than 10 years, can today look forward to everything that she spent the past decade working towards.

Like living in an area which is close to job opportunities for her four children, and having health services available on more than just one day a week from a mobile clinic.

She is excited about the warm running water and the cool sea breeze that she will enjoy as she watches the sunset from her home.

You will all be reaping the rewards of your endurance one year from now when you move into your new homes.

The Dido Valley Housing Project will become the home of 600 families, after a R40 million investment by the City of Cape Town.

We don’t just build houses.

We want to build homes and communities.

That is why Dido Valley will also be getting its own clinic, two parks, a crèche and a business site so that more jobs can be available close to where you live.

Together, you will be living on this prime property, overlooking the hills, mountain and sea within easy reach of public transport.

As part of the contract, we will spend R2,3 million on wages for Expanded Public Works Programme opportunities.

We also want to build a more inclusive city and we are doing this to redress the legacy of the past, through reconciliation.

I think of the chairperson of the Luyolo Restitution Committee, Mr Lungela Mafuya, who we are fortunate enough to have with us here today.

He was born in 1946 raised in Simon’s Town, spending most of his childhood being cared for by his mother who sold traditional beer illegally to make ends meet.

Poverty forced him out of school, and he was required to work to support his three sisters at home.

He remembers the day that he, a young man of 18, and his family were forcibly removed in 1965.

He recounts visions of seeing the truck stop in front their home and the uniformed men telling him they would be moved to Gugulethu and had to leave all their belongings behind.

This was the kind of destruction that the Group Areas Act sowed.

People like Mr Mafuya, who worked in the dockyard and built Simon’s Town up to be the area it is today, were uprooted.

Miss Lungiswa Somlota, the secretary of the Luyolo Restitution Committee, says her brother was a newborn baby on the day they were forcibly removed.

Today, her brother is a 51-year-old man.

It has taken half a century for justice to be restored in their lives.

She said that they have spent all that time feeling like campers, drifting without a place to call their own. But today is the beginning of their journey to becoming real citizens.

All of you here today once used to live together as one.

You were neighbours. You were friends.

Then you were brutally removed from one another and torn apart on the basis of race.

But herein lies the beauty of our Constitution, which brings you back here together again.

This housing project is giving you the chance to come together again, because you were all wronged.

Today we can and we must all work towards finally starting to heal from the hurt of the past.

We must all also work together to ensure that we preserve this opportunity to be everything that you had dreamed.

We must all make the commitment that we will work together to ensure that Dido Valley is a place of peace.

To each and every single beneficiary here today I want to say: welcome to the land of your future homes.

I thank you.

God bless.

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