Zille welcomes opening of healthcare facility, says more should have been done in District Six

The one thing Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says she wants to see before the end of her term in office is the redevelopment of District Six.

The premier was speaking at the opening of the R104m District Six Community Day Centre (CDC) on Wednesday.

Western Cape MEC for Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo also spoke at the official opening ceremony of the CDC, which will provide services to 70 000 people from Woodstock, Salt River, Bo-Kaap and other surrounding areas.

"Today is also a sad day, in that we would've preferred to be opening this facility – delivered within the province's healthcare mandate – alongside a completed land reform process in District Six – the responsibility of the national government," Zille said.

READ: Still no response from land reform minister to District 6 Working Committee court application

She explained that land claimants were not yet able to enjoy the state-of-the-art healthcare facility, despite promises from former president Jacob Zuma that they would return by 2014.

"It is four years after 2014, yet the redevelopment of the area remains incomplete and more than 1 000 claimants are still waiting to be returned to their homes," she added.

'I am still sad'

She also cited community conflict and contractor delays as problems the restitution process has encountered.

The official opening of the healthcare centre was a joyous occasion and the premier was seen dancing along with the Kaapse Klopse, who performed at the ceremony.

It was an especially emotional day for former District Six community members.

"It was emotional coming back to District Six where I was born. It's nice to be home. Thank you Minister Nomafrench for the facility. It took 10 years to plan, but thank you very much," former community member Jeffrey Marshall said.

"When I came back from exile I decided that I wanted to make a difference in my community and get involved at Woodstock Hospital as a volunteer 17 years ago. Being here at 06:00 to open the hospital and closing it at 16:00 – that's what I could give back to my country."

The District Six Community Day Centre (Supplied)

 

Hafsa Josephs said the CDC was a symbol of hope for children and grandchildren.

"I am still sad, especially when they spoke about the District Six of the past when we grew up. My grandparents and my parents all grew up in Aspeling Street," she said.

"My grandfather was the imam of the local mosque and I got teary-eyed when I thought of them. It was so heartbreaking when the families were split. All of us went to different districts. We were spread far and wide. We have faith and I'm sure everything will come together."

Health infrastructure 

Mbombo took the opportunity to thank all those involved in the establishment of the CDC and said that the services focused on women's health and childcare.

She added that full-time doctors and physiotherapists had been employed at the centre, which would be open from 07:30 to 16:00.

The Woodstock and Robbie Nurock Community Day Centres had previously serviced the community before it was decided that they would merge into the new state-of-the-art facility.

This new facility forms part of the province's R5.6bn spend on health infrastructure since 2009 - R3.8bn on new and replacement infrastructure and R1.8bn on maintenance.