Johannesburg - The state has reclaimed the notorious Vlakplaas from a right-wing religious fundamentalist, who claimed he was a “squatter” and could not be evicted, City Press reported on Sunday.

The reclamation of the farm, which took almost 20 years, formed part of Operation Bring Back, which Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said was intended to recover land and properties stolen from the state before 1994.

Vlakplaas, which was the base of apartheid police death squad, was bought by the police in 1979 and later transferred to the department of public works.

After police left the farm in 1995, the department appointed a caretaker, Louis Smit, to look after it and he lived there with his family.

In 2001, the department announced its intention to transfer the farm to the arts and culture department and turn it into a museum.

Smit, a professed Afrikaans right-winger and religious fundamentalist, refused to go.

When public works tried to evict him, he went to court, claiming he was a squatter and needed alternative accommodation.

The court found in his favour.

He left the farm two years ago after buying property in the Western Cape and passed it on to two friends.

After they left, the place was taken over by a Christian organisation called Kuriake Ministries, which turned it into a drug rehabilitation centre.

Public Works then served an eviction notice on Kuriake whose pastor, Theresa Stander, said they had left last month.

The department said the farm would finally be transferred to the arts and culture department for use as a heritage site. - Sapa