Dignity restored to dispossessed families

Pretoria – Friday was a day filled with mixed emotions for the Madiba family who was disposed of their land at Wonderboom farm in the 1950s.

The family, like many others during that period in South Africa’s history, faced a sudden eviction by land owners who were supported by past land laws and practices.

Family representative Mpho Tau said from her understanding, the apartheid government in 1957 sprayed chemicals over her forefathers’ property - which they had occupied since the 1800s - unannounced, which resulted in the death of their livestock within hours.

That was followed by a forceful eviction by government agents which bulldozed and destroyed their property and crops.

The land in question is now part of the Wonderboom military base located in Tshwane, making land restoration unfeasible.

The family had their rights for land restored, after they successfully lodged a land claim amounting to R221 894 for a certain portion of the land with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and Commission on Restitution of Land Rights hosted a ceremony to hand over financial compensation to the Madiba family and seven others families amounting to R8.4 million.

The families were dispossessed of land situated in Gauteng farm lands located in the east of Pretoria, Ekurhuleni, Diepsloot and Sedibeng.

Tau described the compensation as a symbolic gesture for the family.

“This is a day we will always remember as a family - today we can say our forefathers’ dignity has been restored. We are grateful for a caring government which made us elated today,” Tau said, adding that the money would help the family in educating the current generation.

“With the money we have received we will invest in the future of our children by either building homes for them or paying for their university tuition.”

The ceremony, held under the theme of ‘Reversing the legacy of the 1913 Natives’ Land Act’, also saw the Ntuli family compensated for their Klipieland farm.

The family was disposed of their land after they entered into a labour tenant agreement with white farm settlers to provide service for three months in exchange for land settlement and other customary rights like grazing and cultivation.

However, over time they found themselves reduced to mere farm labourers on the land their forefathers called home.

“With this money, I hope I can improve the livelihood of my family and take my children to school before I die,” said family represented Sophia.

Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, said the compensation was in line with reversing the legacy of the 1913 Native Land Act.

“Today we are contributing to the reversal of the apartheid legacy.”

She told the beneficiaries to “take care of this money, it will take care of you”.

Chief land claims commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo said they are working around the clock to settle the claims by Gauteng province during the 1998 period.

The commission had received 10 000 land claims of these only 500 are pending.

“We are working around the clock to satisfy all the families,” Ntloko-Gobodo said.

These settlements comes less than a week after government announced that it would take an aggressive approach on land reform and redistribution this year.

Government is of the view that it will be “difficult if not impossible, to achieve true reconciliation until the land question is resolved”.

While land reform and redistribution programmes have yielded some successes since 1994, President Jacob Zuma says large tracts of land still remain in the hands of very few people. - SAnews.gov.za