Land: The people speak – Strong support for expropriation without compensation in Kuruman

2018-06-29 18:53

"I want to hit this person called section 25," said Pogisho Phethu with a swish of his walking stick.

"He must move out of the community."

His was a view shared by the vast majority of the participants in the Constitutional Review Committee's public hearing on amending section 25 of the Constitution in Mothibistad just outside Kuruman in the Northern Cape on Friday.

Speaker after speaker stood behind the microphone in front of the stage on which the MPs sat and expressed support for expropriation of land without compensation.

Their general argument was that black people were historically dispossessed of land and 24 years into democracy the skewed patterns of land ownership and income inequality persist. They believe expropriating land without compensation will correct this.

"Section 25 must be amended," said sexagenarian Isaac Karudi. "Let the rightful owners of the land be given back the land."

Some of the speakers supporting expropriation without compensation thanked the EFF, whose deputy president Floyd Shivambu serves on the committee, for driving the campaign. Shivambu often took videos or photos while people spoke. 

Henry Chweu, an EFF councillor in the Ga-Segonyana Local Municipality, said it was the EFF's prophecy that the land would be returned to the people.

Economic problems

"The ANC must be led by the EFF," he said. "They fail to implement their own Freedom Charter."

There were some dissenting voices.

Braam van der Westhuizen of Kuruman said: "I think if the amendment is approved we'll have a massive economic problem in the country.

"You can't expect a person to give away something he owns and not pay for it.

"This is not only against whites owning property, it will affect each and every one in South Africa."

Aldridge Mathibe said there seemed to be a "very serious euphoria" around the process that reminds him of when Zimbabwe started kicking people off the land. He said soon thereafter many Zimbabweans came to South Africa looking for the most basic necessities.

He said then, when former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe stepped down, it was found that he and his wife Grace Mugabe owned several farms.

"What is going to happen is if section 25 is amended, it will only benefit your high-profile politicians," he said. 

"Government should not tamper [with] section 25 of the Constitution." 

Mellissa Jacobs asked who was going to get the expropriated land.

"We, the Khoi-San are the rightful owners of the land!" 

She doesn't support the amendment.

'This is our country, let us speak'

Lee Fourie of Kathu said he was concerned for all South Africans.

"You want us to be tenants in our own country for the rest of our lives!"

He asked the government to work with white people, rather than use them as scapegoats.

The meeting was rather subdued, with no jeering of the dissenting voices. 

That was until committee co-chairperson Lewis Nzimande adjourned the meeting at 16:35, 35 minutes after the scheduled close. A man who had the microphone started yelling at him. Another man started yelling: "This is our country, let us speak!"

ANC MP Loyiso Mpumlwana left the stage to speak to the man, bringing some calm. Shivambu also asked them to be satisfied with the adjournment, as many people had been given an opportunity to speak. 

The MPs left, but the man was still yelling.

"You can leave! No problem! This is the last time there'll be a public hearing here!"

He and the others then also eventually left.

Meanwhile, Parliament said it had become aware that some officials assisting the committee had been verbally abused and had received racist phone calls from members of the public. 

"Parliament condemns this abusive behaviour in the strongest terms. Several officials currently travelling with the committee, whose mobile phone numbers have been made public to assist with media liaison and public mobilisation, have complained of receiving racist insults and other abuse from callers," reads a statement from Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. 

"Parliamentary officials are always willing to assist members of the public and the media to ensure a meaningful, transparent and open public participation process. In this regard, we denounce any abuse from disgruntled individuals on these platforms, as they have been created to ensure the free flow of information on parliamentary processes." 

He said the calls would be reported to the relevant law enforcement authorities. 

"The ongoing public hearings are the appropriate platforms for those members of the public who have genuine concerns or views regarding the process currently underway. Parliament will never tolerate any attempt to hinder its constitutional work."

The members of the committee currently in the Northern Cape will be in Kimberley on Saturday. 

Read more on:    land expropriation  |  land hearings  |  land

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