More than 70 members of the Limpopo Land Claimants task team, supported by Nkuzi Development Association, marched to the national offices of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in Pretoria last Friday.
The complainants accuse government of failing in its mandate to adhere to its promises of settling land restitution claims on numerous occasions.
Spokesperson for Nkunzi Development Association, Vasco Mabunda said members have waited for a solid 22 years for their claims to be settled. “Year in, year out, targets are set but not met. The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act (Act 15 of 2014) was passed in 2014 to enable those who missed out in 1995-1998 window period to lodge claims – a seemingly good initiative at face value. Members are running out of patience. They are saying they are fed up with government playing games with their livelihoods and dignity,” Mabunda said.
“The failure to deliver of the land question amounts to violation of a constitutionally entered right. It is common sense that the land question is at the heart of genuine reconciliation and was at the centre of our liberation struggle. We are not free without our land,” stressed Mabunda.
He further pointed out that it was envisaged at the time that the claims would be finalised by 31 March 2008 but the deadline was later shifted to December 2008. “The Regional Land Claims Commission failed to deliver within that prescribed period. These claimant communities have had to wait for over 20 years for the Land Commission in the province to finalise their land claims. To date, not only do their land claims remain unresolved, but they have had to contend with a lot of injustice presided over by the Commission who constitutional mandate was to reverse colonial and apartheid injustice,” Mabunda insisted.
Members are claiming the reason for the slow processing of their land claims to be that some of directors who are given responsibility to facilitate the land claims at the provincial office are on the payroll of the farmers occupying their land.
They also called for the removal of Tele Maphoto who is the Chief Director, Land Restitution Support in the province, they accusing Maphoto of failing them and delaying their land claims.
Mabunda said they have given the national office 21 day to respond to their grievances.
By the time of going press no comment was available from national office of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Story & photos: Herbert Rachuene