'Correcting the original sin of land dispossession': Ramaphosa hands over land to KZN community

2018-10-14 20:30
President Cyril Ramaphosa in Empangeni on Sunday. (The Presidency)

President Cyril Ramaphosa in Empangeni on Sunday. (The Presidency)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa handed over more than 4000 hectares of land to the KwaMkhwanazi community in Empangeni, northern KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.

"This handover of 4 586 hectares of land comes at a time when the attention of our nation is focused on the effort to correct the original sin of land dispossession," Ramaphosa said.

He also handed over the title deeds of both the land the Mkhwanazi residents have held since 2002 and the land that had been restored on Sunday.

"We firmly believe that people should have the deeds to the land they own," he said. 

The KwaMkwanazi community was forcibly removed from their land in three phases following the enactment of the 1913 Land Act, according to The Presidency.

From 1915 to 1918 the first group of dispossessions took place to the KwaMkhwanazi people, their dispossession was a result of returning World War I white soldiers.

The second phase of dispossession took place in the 1940s, when the white farming community expanded their commercial interests in timber and cane.

'Restitution, not retribution'

At the height of apartheid supremacy the government of the time between 1958 and 1960 violently removed landowners to cater for the expansion of the white community around Richards Bay and the Mthunzini coast.

Ramaphosa said the history of dispossession of the KwaMkhwanazi community straddled colonialism and the relentless discrimination, prejudice and violence that culminated in the 1948 victory of the National Party in an all-white election. 

"Seventy years after apartheid rule commenced, our land redistribution programme is an undertaking in restitution, not retribution," said Ramaphosa. 

The injustice, indignity and impoverishment inflicted on the people of Mkhwanazi mirrored the hardship to which colonialism and apartheid subjected communities throughout a country endowed with great natural gifts that should have been able to provide a life of dignity and worth to all its people, he said. 

In response to the inhumane dispossession and injustice brought upon the people of this land, the ANC's Freedom Charter made a clear call that the land must be shared among those who work it, he said.

"As government, we are intensifying implementation of our land reform and restitution programmes so that South Africans such as the KwaMkhwanazi residents can leverage land for the betterment of their lives and the growth of our economy."

He announced that government would assist the community with post-settlement packages that would develop their ability to create sustainable income and jobs from the land transferred to them.

"These post settlement support packages are designed to ensure that beneficiary communities, such as Mkhwanazi, build on your existing presence and participation in the sector and shift from subsistence to commercial participants and owners of businesses across the value chains of the assets on their land," he said.

Ramaphosa said it was government's belief that communities should take great interest in their land restitution processes and be active participants in all enterprises and activities taking place on their land.

"This community can be exemplary to other recipients of land through its active participation in the administration of funds received through the Phalane Trust. The Mkhwanazi land recipients, through the Phalane Trust, currently own sugarcane enterprises and the Forestry Inn Hotel Pty Ltd that operate on behalf of the community and we encourage this type of entrepreneurship," he said.

The president commended companies, such as SiyaQhubekha Forests (Pty) Ltd, that have lease agreements on the Mkhwanazi land and "who will provide bursaries for local students studying in areas relevant to the forestry sector".

 

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  durban  |  land

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