Land: The people speak - Public hearings told that 'there will be hell'

2018-06-28 16:43

"If farmers' land is taken against their will, there will be hell. There will be a revolution." 

This was the stern warning from Valerie Byliefeldt, provincial leader of the National Conservative Party.

She was speaking in Mokopane, Limpopo on Thursday at public hearings into whether the Constitution should be amended to allow expropriation of land without compensation.

Narrative must change

"If the government makes the change, then South Africa will see the most hellish revolution that South Africans have seen in their lifetime," Byliefeldt said.

Byliefeldt added that no farmer has ever stolen land and that Parliament should correct this narrative. 

"Us farmers bought the land and we paid hard. We paid in sweat and we bled for our land. The farmers have never stolen land."

She said land expropriation without compensation did not need to happen because there was a lot of land, held by government, which could be given to the people. 

"Everyone in South Africa has the right to land, why take [land] from the farmers," Byliefeldt added.

Byliefeldt was heckled throughout most of her speech and left the hall shortly after she finished speaking. 

Whites have benefited

Her views were in the minority on Thursday morning.

Most attendees were for the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.

Several participants told the Constitutional Review Committee that there should not be a need to compensate farmers because they obtained the land illicitly and benefited from the land while its original owners suffered. 

A man clad in a maroon jersey, who did not identify himself, told the committee that the white minority took the land for their own use. 

"We cannot compensate someone that has already benefited [and is] still benefiting now. Compensation shouldn't even be entertained," he said. 

"Many black people today are without the very fertile land that they need."

While agreeing that Section 25 should be changed, some participants believed the land should still be shared between white and black people. 

"We don't want to take the land from the whites. We want to share the land. We love them, they are our brothers. But we need to amend the Constitution to allow us to be equal," said one unidentified man, who was wearing a black hoodie.

Malema vs Lekota

On Thursday, EFF commander-in-chief Julius Malema and Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota greeted each other cordially before proceedings got under way but did not sit next to each other. 

This was after Wednesday's hearing at Marble Hall took a hostile turn when Malema and Lekota had a heated exchange, following claims by the Cope leader that the process was staged.

Malema and Lekota confronted each other in a tense standoff in the jam-packed town hall. The crowd showed its support for Malema, repeatedly chanting "Juju", as the EFF leader's followers affectionately call him.

Lekota, who was seated next to Malema, eventually got up and moved to another seat.

Both Malema and Lekota said the argument was over a disagreement that the process had been staged.

Lekota confronted Malema about giving the chairperson direction on which members of public should speak. 

Malema dismissed this, saying it was not untoward and that Lekota was unhappy because his views were not expressed through the members of the public.

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Read more on:    polokwane  |  land hearings  |  land  |  land expropriation

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