Johannesburg - The period for lodging land claims should be shortened, two organisations representing Soweto communities said on Monday.

This was the view expressed by the National Land Claims Forum and the Greater Dobsonville Heritage Foundation, in written submissions on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill.

The bill seeks to amend the cut-off date for lodging claims for restitution, to provide for the advertisement of claims and to regulate the appointment of Land Claims Court judges.

It will launch a second phase of land claims and restitution, and allow those who missed the December 1998 deadline for the first lodgement phase to lodge their claims through the Land Claims Commission.

The two organisations said in written submissions that the period for lodging claims should expire on June 13, 2014.

“A prolonged period would be prejudicial to both claimants and land owners.”

A shorter period would help to fast-track the applications of elderly claimants. The two organisations submitted that financial compensation for land should not be restricted.

“Further, the law should provide for a claimant and the land owner to negotiate an acceptable settlement for both parties, so long as this is done under the auspices of the Commission (on Restitution of Land Rights).”

The Greater Dobsonville Heritage Foundation would hold a meeting in Soweto on Sunday to report back on the parliamentary committee on rural development and land reform's public hearing, held in Johannesburg on January 24.

Sapa