Over 80 000 land claims settled before cut-off date

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A total of 82 976 land claims lodged before the cut-off date of 30 December 1998 have been settled, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) said on Wednesday.

Chief Commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo said the R53 billion settlement includes R22 billion for financial compensation, R25 billion for the acquisition of land and R5 billion for grants.

“Furthermore, the commission has settled over 3.8 million hectares to the benefit of 2.3 million beneficiaries, including 175 000 female-headed households and 1 246 people with disabilities,” Ntloko-Gobodo said.

On the claims lodged between 1995 and 2013, Ntloko-Gobodo said 59 712 claims were finalised across all provinces from 1995 to 31 March 2013.

The commission had a briefing with the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Portfolio Committee on Wednesday, where it presented progress achieved to settle and finalise land claims in terms of the old order from 1995 to 31 March 2023.

The committee also heard that the commission has finalised 65 410 claims from 1995 to 2023.

On the Lamosa II judgment, Ntloko-Gobodo said the commission must submit reports to the Acting Judge President of the Land Claims Court on a six-month basis, in compliance with the Constitutional Court order dated March 2019.

As part of the order, Ntloko-Gobodo reported that the commission is obliged to submit the number of outstanding old order claims in each of the commission’s administrative regions.

“The commission is also obliged to submit the anticipated completion date, including short-term settlement targets; a description of any constraints, including budgetary constraints, that may prevent the commission from reaching its completion target dates; and a list of solutions implemented or considered to address these constraints and any additional matters the court may direct, until all old order claims have been processed,” the Chief Commissioner explained.

The commission has, in line with the court order, successfully submitted seven reports, with the latest report submitted on 24 January 2023.

The commission also listed several current challenges, including insufficient budget to make an impact on the goal of accelerating the settlement of outstanding old land claims.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Deputy Minister, Mcebisi Skwatsha, said the department is considering making an assessment on the way forward, which will be presented to Cabinet, in relation to the required human and financial resources.

The committee commended the commission for the work it has done to date, and for obtaining a qualified audit report.

“I truly believe that the only way we will be able to fast-track this is for us to implement expropriation of land without compensation and in doing so, we will be able to address this gross and grave injustice and ensure that land hunger is corrected,” committee chairperson, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, said.

Mandela said Parliament weighs heavily on the department to ensure that they are in full compliance with the court order. The committee also expects a programme outlining how it intends to address all outstanding claims, and its related issues and challenges.

Mandela emphasised that the restitution of land rights and its related claims is a fundamental pillar of restorative justice envisaged by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

“While we welcome the immense progress made by the Department and the Commission on Land Claims in concluding outstanding pre-1998 claims, as per the Constitutional Court order, any such outstanding claims delay restorative justice for post-1998 claims.

“In view of this, Parliament urges the department to address this matter with the urgency it deserves and reaffirms the importance of a programme and timetable for settling all outstanding old order claims,” the chairperson said. – SAnews.gov.za