Home News Land expropriation hearings wrap up in Northern Cape

Land expropriation hearings wrap up in Northern Cape

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Miners also asked that land be made available for them to mine on.

File image. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation concluded its Northern Cape leg of the public hearings in Springbok on Sunday.

Last week the committee also held hearings in De Aar, Kimberly, Upington.

During the Kimberley-leg of the hearings, local residents used the opportunity to highlight the continued crisis of urban land in the city.

Although the leader of the delegation, Dr Mathole Motshekga, clarified the reason for the hearing, namely to ascertain from the people of South Africa how section 25 should be drafted, many residents used the opportunity to express their frustration and the urgent need for speedy implementation to address the urban land crisis in Kimberley.

Councillor Priscilla Kok, told the delegation that she had lived in an informal settlement for nine years and that there were no services available to the community. The municipality, she said, owns only 3% of the city and is therefore not able to minister to the needs of the residents.

According to several residents, the vast majority of lands are owned by one individual and some companies.

According to the Northern Cape Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, the legacy of apartheid has robbed people of vast arable land, and resettled them in rocky, desert and unproductive land. Several residents said despite the vastness of the Northern Cape, its unequal development and the continued inequalities remain some of the largest concerns.

Sizwe Jack said expropriation of land is a just and equitable process to restore the dignity of the people. He maintained that the “willing buyer, willing seller” policy had not worked; and one of his proposals included an amendment to Clause 25 (3) which speaks to the compensation and the time and manner of payment. This, he said, should begin with, “where compensation is payable”.

Several black miners also came out to express their views, and submitted that the plight of miners should not be forgotten in the process. According to them, they were not skilled in working agricultural lands which have become the main subject in the discussion of expropriation. Instead, they requested that consideration also be given to expropriate areas for mining.

Views against the amendment of section 25 were also expressed. One resident, Jan van Rensburg, pointed out that expropriating land without compensation posed a threat to the economy and the value of the land. Similarly, Chris Liebenberg, from Cope spoke to the threat posed to private property. The expropriation of land, he said, will not be limited to agricultural land but people would also expropriate private homes.

The DA’s Reinnette Liebenberg stated that the government was giving people false hope. She told the delegation that many people were still waiting for title deeds for properties they had received as far back as 2007.

Motshekga told the hearing that all the views expressed were important. He assured the hearing that the committee will do its utmost best to accurately articulate these views when it returns to Parliament.

During the final hearings in Springbok on Sunday, Motshekga, utilised the opportunity to speak out against the scourge of gender-based violence, especially the abuse of women and children. All of us, he said, must be self-appointed protectors of women and children, who are the foundation of this country.

“Oliver Tambo taught us, no country has a future unless it protects its women and children,” he said.

Motshekga also gave recognition to the plight of the Nama Royal Nation, which includes diverse communities of a great nation found in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Like all other nations, he said the Nama people deserved to have their culture, identity and dignity restored.

Motshekga said that Parliament realised the need to fast-track the recognition of the Nama language as one of the official languages, alongside the Khelobedu and Sign language.

The majority of residents of the Springbok communities echoed the sentiments of the residents of other parts of the province, calling for the process of amending section 25 of the Constitution to be fast-tracked.

One resident, Jillian Peters, told the delegation that the previously disadvantaged and people living in poverty could not continue being beggars in the land of their birth. “We are not here to say grab the land, we are here to say that we also want land,” she said while stating her support for the amendments.

A large number of residents expressed the hope that the amendments to section 25 would address the injustices of the past, which left many families without land and stuck in poverty-stricken conditions.

Municipal Manager in the Nama Khoi Municipality, Samantha Titus-Tatus, told the delegation that “it’s time that land issues are laid to rest, our people have been suffering too long. This process is about redressing the injustices of the past, and not just about land grabbing”.

Some residents stated that they recognised the need for land reform but did not support the amendment of the Constitution.

Speaking to the effects of expropriation without compensation, Gert Coetzee told the delegation that no economy would grow if there was no compensation. He was of the view that the “willing buyer, willing seller” policy should be maintained.

The delegation also noted the concerns which indicate that there are tendencies to create a Volkstad in the Eureka area.

“We want to reiterate that our Constitution grants the right of self-determination to all the people of South Africa, both black and white, in one South Africa. Any such tendencies violate the fundamental laws of the country, adopted by all the people of South Africa, both black and white,” Motshekga said.

Motshekga also expressed his gratitude to the people of the Northern Cape who participated in the hearings. Despite the capacity challenges related to the National State of Disaster rules, he pointed out that residents had peacefully waited for their turn to enter the halls to make their submissions.

Speaking to the many challenges raised, Motshekga said some of these challenges might not directly be related to amending section 25, but the issues are as important and will be raised with the relevant departments.