Pretoria - The government was working tirelessly to ensure that land claims by communities forcefully removed from their property as a result of apartheid-era legislation were settled swiftly and claimants received compensation, President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed.
He made the remarks in Pretoria on Saturday while officiating at a land restitution ceremony which marked successful claims by 10 Gauteng communities who were presented with title deeds and financial compensation.
“We are today celebrating the settlement of 10 land claims in Gauteng that were lodged before December 31, 1998. Many of our people have waited for far too long for this process of land restitution and compensation to be completed. We appreciate the patience and the perseverance of claimants, but recognise that much more needs to be done and with greater urgency.
“Today is part of a process that will cover the length and breadth of this country. We are settling land claims, returning the land to those communities and families from whom it was taken, and thereby providing the restitution that our constitution requires.”
The land claims totalling R203million were facilitated by the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights to the benefit of communities in the cities of Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni.
Ramaphosa said his government's departments and agencies were trying to ensure that more outstanding claims were addressed speedily.
“Today we are handing over the title deed to the Klipkop-Nanduna Communal Property Association on behalf of the descendants of the Mahlangu and Malobola families. The ancestors of these families held informal or unregistered rights to the property in question and a painstaking process was followed to verify their claims. It was found that the Malobola family occupied the land in question from the 1800s to 1967 and the Mahlangu family from 1936 to 1960,” he said.
“The painful stories of these two families echo across the country in a thousand different places, where people were deprived of their birthright, their land, and their livelihoods. The Malobola family lived on the farm known as Klipklop from the 1800s.”
Ramaphosa said a critical piece of evidence proving the legitimacy of the claimants’ occupation of the land and their forceful removal was “a letter written by the attorneys of a Mr Zwick, which stated that all ‘bantu’ people at Klipkoppies were occupying the farm illegally”.
He said the communities were given a mere 14 days to remove their livestock from the farm, and if they resisted, this would be impounded.
“The act of returning the land to these families is therefore both symbolic and material. It represents the righting of a grave wrong and provides this community with an opportunity to reap the benefits of a valuable asset.”
In the nine other restitution settlements celebrated on Saturday, the claimants chose to get financial compensation. “In some instances, the claimants settled elsewhere and are not in a position to start a new settlement." African News Agency (ANA)