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Land claimants flock to commission’s office

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The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is encouraging land claimants to wait for the mobile lodgement offices to visit their area rather than travelling long distances to Polokwane to lodge claims as is presently the case.
Myriads of land claimants, mainly senior citizens from various parts of the province, have over the week flocked to the Regional Land Claims Commission to lodge land claims for land taken from them as a result of Apartheid laws. The majority of the claimants arrived at the commissioner’s office as early as 6:00 to be first in re-opening of the lodgement of land claims which is calculated from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019.
According to Nicolas Magada, Communications Manager for Department of Rural Development and Land Reform the re-opening of lodgement of land claims enables those who did not lodge claims before 31 December 1998 to do so. “One of the reasons for the influx is that the claims are lodged electronically in one of the 14 offices of the Commission or in mobile lodgement offices. There are no manual forms to be filled, and the lodgement process is free of charge. In Limpopo the lodgement office is in the corner of Biccard and Grobler streets, hence the queues of people who attend our offices to lodge claims,” Magada said.
Magada further stated said although there is an intensive communication campaign stating that the Commission has mobile lodgement offices which will visit all corners of the province by 30 June 2019, people still travel long and far to lodge their claims. “They state that they missed the 31 December 1998 deadline to lodge land claims and do not want to miss it again. Despite this, we continue to communicate a message that people should wait in the areas for the mobile lodgement office to visit their areas”.
He also advised claimants to use the mobile lodgement offices, named Mabulandila Vulindlela, which is shared with Mpumalanga. “Between 1 July and 30 September Mabulandila Vulindlea visited towns and villages in Tzaneen, Giyani and Malamulele to collect land claims and it will return again in January next year,” Magada said.
One claimant, Raisibe Lekgothoane from Burgersfort said she decided to go directly to Regional Land Claims Commissioner Office in Polokwane because she does not trust the mobile lodgement office. “I missed the deadline in 1998 and I don’t want to make the same mistake again, hence I came to Polokwane. Besides, these mobile offices can be trusted,” Lekgothoane said.
Magada also informed that whether claimants lodge their claims today or n 2019 will not make a difference as their claims will, in all likelihood, only be processed after 2019. “The Act requires that the Commission must finalise the claims lodged by the 31 December 1998 cut-off date before processing those lodged between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019. “There are presently
7 997 claims lodged before the 1998 cut-off date that are still being processed, and the Commission has projected that if it will complete these claims in 2019. Whether claimants lodge their claims today or in 2019 will not make a difference as their claims will, in all likelihood, only be processed after 2019,” Magada said.

Story: Herbert Rachuene
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Photo: Senior citizens queue at the Regional Land Claims Commissioner Office on Tuesday.