- David Mabuza handed over 764 000 hectares of land to the Covie community, after a successful land settlement claim.
- The Covie Community lost their land after it was declared part of the Tsitsikamma National Park.
- Mabuza told beneficiaries the handover is intended to restore their human dignity.
Deputy President David Mabuza has handed over 764 000 hectares of land to the Covie community, near Plettenberg Bay, along the Garden Route, after a successful land settlement claim.
"We congratulate the Covie community for this successful land settlement claim. We join in the celebration of gaining back more than 764 000 hectares of land that will positively impact the 411 households to gain back their financial freedom," Mabuza said during a special handover ceremony on Friday.
The restitution was spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
"Twenty-seven years into our democracy, today's land handover should be seen as an important instrument to achieve social cohesion and the realisation of socio-economic opportunities, as provided for in the Bill of Rights," Mabuza said.
"With this land handover, the Covie community can now begin to independently determine their future, secure their livelihoods and regain their human dignity."
He said the restitution process aimed to address the historical injustices of land inequality, displacement and dispossession.
"This solemn occasion has bestowed on us a righteous pen of justice, to correct the wrongs and injustice of the past."
Mabuza added that, for the people of Covie, "apartheid atrocities against coloured people were no different from those suffered by the Khoi, the San, the African natives and the Blacks, in general.
"Here, too, people suffered the same fate and were evicted, displaced and lost their right to land," he said.
The Covie community lost its land rights when Portion 1 of Farm 287 was declared part of the Tsitsikamma National Park for conservation purposes.
The sea frontage of the Covie commonage was also declared a nature reserve, thus depriving the community of physical and economic access to the sea.
In 1978, the area was declared a coloured area, which led to the claimant community relocating from Covie.
The property is currently valued around R88.6 million.
Friday's ceremony was attended by Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, and Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza.
De Lille said the restitution programme has provided redress to many victims of land dispossession and remains a crucial vehicle to restore the dignity of people.
"Land restitution is one of the three elements of land reform aimed at providing redress to persons and communities dispossessed of their property rights by colonial and apartheid governments," she said.
Winde said he was very pleased that the Covie community has received their title deeds.
"I would like to stress the importance of home ownership in empowering residents. Ownership will provide new opportunities for the beneficiaries here today, and for their family members in generations to come," the premier added.