KZN families receive R9.7m in land claims settement

2015-04-29 11:53
Ahmed Moolla, Khadija Ismail and Farhana Ismail received just under R500 000 for the land they lost under the Group Areas Act. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Ahmed Moolla, Khadija Ismail and Farhana Ismail received just under R500 000 for the land they lost under the Group Areas Act. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban - Tears welled up in Farhana Ismail’s eyes as she recalled how her family was forced to move from their Victorian style family home in Mayville, Durban, in the late 1980s when the 1950 Group Areas Act came into effect.

But on Tuesday night the 45-year-old woman and her family shed tears of joy as they were compensated just under R500 000 by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to redress the dispossession of their land.

Ismail’s family, along with fourteen others from rural and urban areas in eThekwini, were handed a total of R9.7m in financial compensation for land that they lost as a result of the forced removals.

The settlements were handed over during a dinner held at the Durban City Hall on Tuesday night.

KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Human Settlement MEC Ravi Pillay and Arts and Culture MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha and members of the KZN legislature attended the event. 

‘Devastating law’

“In the 60s and the 70s the government wanted to move people from the areas which they wanted to develop for the white communities. Although we were Indians we lived in a mixed racial community in Mayville… until this devastating law called the Group Areas Act came and wanted to displace us,” recalled Ismail.

“They told us that they were the willing buyer and we must be the willing seller and we must sell the land to them. When my family refused they sent us threatening letters and promised to expropriate the land.

“We fought them and told them that we bought the land and we were not just going to give it up that easily. In 1973 they gave us a cheque of R16 424.23 and we rejected it. The same cheque was presented to us again in 1983 and we never cashed it.

“We said if we cash the cheque then we are giving into this. We refused to give in.”

She said what happened broke her family and shattered neighbouring communities. 

‘Sweet victory’

“We refused the cheque because it was a pittance and we couldn’t let them take over one acre of land for a pittance. It was also the inhumane manner in which they carried out the removals that upset us. While we were living there, they began to make our lives miserable, they began cutting into the land and started building roads and low cost houses to humiliate us. This victory is a sweet victory,” she said referring to the settlement.

“In 1994 when the government opened the floodgate to redress the land act, we applied for compensation. It’s been 21 years…but we are just happy that our family is still intact and that we can finally move on,” said a teary eyed Ismail.

Another beneficiary was overjoyed Anamaria Phuthini, 83, from KwaMashu.

“I have never been this happy in my life. I am not sure how much we received in compensation I am just glad that we have been compensated for our loss,” said Phuthini.

She said she was renting a house with her new born son, Cyril, now 52, in Cato Manor in 1952 when she was told to move.

“My son was a few months old when a white man named Izikhinjwana [the man that only wears shorts] knocked on her door. He was a very rude man. He loaded all of our belongings into the back of the van and took us to KwaMashu where we lived in a one bedroom house that we shared with 10 other people,” recalled Phuthini.

She said on April 27, 1952 her family was moved again to another section of KwaMashu.

“That same year we applied for compensation and we are only being compensated today. For many years we walked the streets of Durban with our files seeking compensation. I am so happy I lived to see this day,” said Phuthini.


Chief Director of Restitution in KwaZulu-Natal advocate Bheki Mbili said the government wanted to bring closure with regards to the dispossession that took place. He said the government wanted to restore the dignity that was taken away from families when the dispossessions took place and redress the legacy of the 1913 Native’s Land Act.

“The status of outstanding land claims in KZN at the moment is that we are currently sitting on a total of 2 059, the number relates to the lodging process that was closed in December 1998,” said Mbili.

“In the 2015-2016 financial year we have targeted settling 51 land claims in KwaZulu-Natal, the number may seem small but there are financial implications associated with the settlement of the land claims. I am optimistic that we are going to exceed this target in the same way that we have done in the previous financial years,” said Mbili.

MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Cyril Xaba said: “A total of 15 237 claims, which were lodged with the KZN Land Claims Commission by the 13 December 1998 deadline, have been settled. The commission has to date awarded in excess of R9bn to settle land claims through land restoration and financial compensation.”

Read more on:    durban  |  land

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