Claimants have hope after meet

2016-10-27 06:00
Elder Themba Hlakudi, speaking during the The District Feedback Session, at Gugulethu Sports Complex, on Thursday. PHOTOS: mBONGISENI mASEKO

Elder Themba Hlakudi, speaking during the The District Feedback Session, at Gugulethu Sports Complex, on Thursday. PHOTOS: mBONGISENI mASEKO

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Gugulethu Sports Complex was filled to capacity with eager residents who came to hear the feedback about their land claims.

Mcebisi Skwatsha, the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, asked the claimants, who have lodged their claims after the applications were re-opened in 2014, to be patient as the process has been put on hold for two years by the Constitutional Court.

Skwatsha was accompanied by MPs Mandisa Matshoba, Xolela Bathembu, the deputy director for Lodgement Centre for the Commission on Restitution of Land Claims, Thami Mdontswa, the deputy commissioner for the Land Claims Commission and Jane Mandobe Mzongwana, a local resident who appealed for the re-opening of the land claims after they were closed in 1998 leaving others out.

The event, dubbed the District Feedback Session saw keen residents from Gugulethu, Nyanga, New-Cross Roads and other surrounding areas filling the hall. The meeting was primarily targeted at persons who want to receive a progress report regarding their applications for restitution.

Most claimants were family members of persons or families forcefully removed from places like Simon’stown, Retreat, Goodwood, Ndabeni and other areas by the Apartheid government.

Skwatsha warned the claimants about “fraudsters” who go around asking for money in exchange of filling their claims with the department.

“We say claimants must stop paying anyone who claims to be assisting them with their claim.

Those people are fraudsters. I know that the issue we are talking about is so close to your hearts. We were forcefully removed from different areas. We are here so that we can answer your questions and we go around the country answering the questions,” he said.

Bathembu said 7267 out of 8085 claims that were lodged before 1998 were already paid to the families.

He said there are about 1000 claimants who they can no longer find.

Bathembu also said they had to freeze the payments for claimants for residents of Luyolo after it came to light that there was something fishy about some of them, but they had started paying the deserving ones after a lengthy investigation.

He also said the claimants should thank Mzongwana for her efforts which led to the re-opening of the claim process.

On the 16 February, the Constitutional Court heard a case on the validity of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act, Act No 15 of 2014 (“the Amendment Ac”) which, amongst others, re-opened the lodging of new land claims for five years, calculated from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019.

The application was brought by the Land Access Movement of South Africa, Association for Rural Advancement, Nkunzi Development Association and three Communal Property Associations.

The applicants alleged that the National Council of Provinces and Provincial Legislatures failed to comply with their duty to facilitate public participation in terms of section 72(1) (a) and section 118(1) (a) of the Constitution when they processed the Amendment Act.

In the alternative, the applicants challenged the constitutionally (for vagueness) of section 6(1) (g) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994 (“the Restitution Act”) which required the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights to ensure that priority is given to claims lodged by 31 December 1998 and which were not finalised on 1 July 2014 when lodged by 31 December 1998 and which were not finalised on 1 July 2014 when lodgement was opened.

On 28 July 2016, the Constitutional Court handed down its judgment, which declared that Parliament failed to satisfy its obligation to facilitate public involvement in accordance with the Constitution.

Gugulethu will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in two years time.

Thobeka Sono, one of the claimants, said the R20 000 paid to claimants who were forcefully removed from Simons Town is a “disgrace.”

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