Still no response from land reform minister to District 6 Working Committee court application

2018-04-30 17:30
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is yet to file a notice of intention to defend. (Moeletsi Mabe, Gallo Images, Sunday Times, file)

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is yet to file a notice of intention to defend. (Moeletsi Mabe, Gallo Images, Sunday Times, file)

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Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is yet to file a notice of intention to defend after the District 6 Working Committee instituted court action in the Land Claims Court in Johannesburg almost three weeks ago.

The District 6 Working Committee, with the assistance of law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, launched an application that seeks a declaratory order and structural interdict against the ministry for failing to provide adequate restitution for those who were forcefully evicted since 1998.

"We cannot really comment on the merits of the case. We are still looking through the court papers and then we will formulate a legal response," department spokesperson Vuyani Nkasayi said.

"I can say that we have been meeting with the District 6 Working Committee."

Forty-two hectares in District Six were set aside for restitution after the fall of the apartheid government.

District 6 Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said the committee represented about 2 500 families, who initially claimed for restitution between 1995 and 1998 from the national land claims commissioner.

'Government has failed its people'

He believes that the government lacked insight into the plight of the restitution claimants.

"What they have done is constitutionally and ethically wrong. In terms of section 7(2) of the Constitution, the government has a duty to fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights," he said.

"Look at how our people suffered before 1994 – they are suffering even more now. If we have a democratic country, then government has a duty to hasten the restitution process. When it comes to land reform, the South African government has failed its people."

Read: Over 7 000 land claims still to be settled - Commission

The committee has also named The City of Cape Town, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust as co-respondents in the matter.

Ajam said that the purpose of the declaratory order and structural interdict was to force government to design and implement a restitution plan that includes funding, time frames and a methodology of how land will be distributed.

"We are hoping that this court application will be a catalyst for the government to actually do something about land reform," Ajam said.

He said he expected to learn of the minister's next move by May 28.

Last year, the committee sent a letter to the ministry on a similar matter after previous requests for information had gone unanswered by the department.

Read more on:    cape town  |  courts  |  land  |  land claims
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