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Community wants Land Claims Commissioner suspended

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Members of Bakgatla Ba Selala protest at the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner on Wednesday.

Members of Bakgatla Ba Selala protest at the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner on Wednesday.

Members of Bakgatla Ba Selala Community Development Trust from Ga-Selala in the Sekhukhune area are calling for the immediate suspension of Tele Maphoto, Chief Director responsible for the Restitution Programme in the province for allegedly been unable to expedite their land claim.
Speaking during their protest march to the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner in Polokwane last Wednesday Spokesperson for Bakgatla Ba Selala Community Development Trust, Lekgaga Malatjie said they demand the immediate suspension of Maphoto and Manager Makhanana Senwana for keeping the Rule 5 Report of the Regional Land Claim Commission from May 2012 to July 2015.
“The report accepts the Bakgatla Ba Selala claims as valid. The officials must be investigated for delaying the finalisation of the our claim, for keeping the Rule 5 Report for the selfish interests, for conniving with our counter claimants by accepting their claims even after the date of submission was closed,” Malatjie said. He also mentioned that the Rule 5 Report of the Regional Land Claim Commission, which they got two weeks ago as a result of pressure, comprehensively accepts Bakgatla Ba Selala claim as valid and complying with the requirements of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 as amended. “The report is very clear yet Maphoto and Senwana have been disregarding it for four years,” Malatjie said.
He informed that a formal land claim lodged in 1998 in respect of Twyfelaar 119KT and The Shelter 121 KT has to date elicited no response from Maphoto’s office.
“The Government has since 1998 to date refused to prioritise or recognise their claim. We have submitted all evidence, oral and written documents, including copies of confirmation letters written by the former Lebowa Government, native tax payments, proof of graves, maps, historical records and yet no attention is given to our submission,” Malatjie said.
“Several attempts to engage the commission and the Ministry on this matter have all been disregarded. These include our letter of 19 August 2013 to the Regional Land Claims Commission, our e-mail of 22 August 2013 to the Minister which Minister responded and undertook to attend to our concerns. As a result of being neglected by our own government and not recognising our claim as valid, our community continue to be undermined, ripped off and prejudiced when dealing with mining companies. The community has waited too long for justice to prevail. Many have died without enjoying the recognition of the right to the land of the forefathers. We demand an urgent official recognition of our rights as lawful owners of Twyfelaar 119KT and the Shelter 121KT,” Malatjie concluded.
Spokesperson for Rural Development and Land Reform, Nicholas Magada said the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commission in the province is processing the community claim, their land was investigated and accepted as a valid claim in the year 2012, but it is not finalised.
He also mentioned that the reason they are unable to speed up the process is because there are other communities who have lodged their claims on the same properties and the claimants were informed that their claim cannot be finalised on its own without dealing with counter claims lodged before the 1998 cut-off deadline.

Story: Herbert Rachuene
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