Flashback to 2010: Stephanie Cupido, left, with her brother, Chris Bergstedt (since deceased), outside their old home in Stellenbosch. The two were the grandchildren of Stephanus and Marguerita Hector, whose property was expropriated in 1967. Picture: SAM CLARK
Flashback to 2010: Stephanie Cupido, left, with her brother, Chris Bergstedt (since deceased), outside their old home in Stellenbosch. The two were the grandchildren of Stephanus and Marguerita Hector, whose property was expropriated in 1967. Picture: SAM CLARK

Family waits 26 years for clarity on land restitution matter without satisfaction

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Aug 25, 2021

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Cape Town - Two Cape Town families who pursued a land claim for 26 years are anxious because an alternative settlement offer from the Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC) has not been properly explained to them.

Members of the Hendrickse and the Bergstedt families, who are descendants of the original land owners, Stephanus and Marguerita Hector, are demanding an investigative report outlining the methodology and calculations for the deviation from the original settlement offer.

They sent an email to Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza on August 11 about the issue, but say they have yet to receive a response.

In their letter to the minister dated August 11, Patrick and Godfrey Hendrickse and their sister Zelda Jansen said: “As yet, we have not received the said report as requested even though they (RLCC) had undertaken to do so at a meeting between us as the claimants and themselves on August 11, 2020.

“The most recent undertaking to provide the said investigative report was made to our attorney, John Riley, by Ben Mars, the chief legal adviser of the RLCC on July 29, 2021. As claimants, we feel violated, having been disrespected and subjected to gross incompetence on the part of the commission,” the email said.

Zelda Jansen said: “It is a shocking indictment of the lands claim commission.”

The Argus sent a query to the minister’s personal assistance on Thursday last week, and by the time of writing, despite a reminder, we had not received a response other than a notification that said: “Our response time to all media enquiries is 24 to 48 hours.”

Patrick Hendrickse said: “The lack of information from their side makes it appear as though they are not looking at settling this claim in the interests of us as claimants.”

The families say their property, erf 2 487 (1 505m²) in Stellenbosch was expropriated 54 years ago in 1967.

A claim was submitted in 1995 by Theodore Hendrickse on behalf of Mrs EM Lawrence, the last surviving child of Stephanus and Marguerita Hector.

After being notified that the original land could not be released for restitution purposes, the family was offered and opted for alternative land in Franschhoek, erven 618 (1 378m²) and 615 (1 309m²).

However, in a letter to the claimants dated November 2020 the RLCC’s provincial chief director, Wayne Alexander, said that after further investigations were conducted, it was realised that the allocation of the two erven, which comprise 2 687m², would amount to over-compensation.

Alexander said the RLCC would instead offer erf 618 (1 378m²) for the settlement of the claim, and if the families did not accept the claim, the RLCC reserved the right to offer erven 618 and 615 to other claimants as alternative land for the settlement of their respective claims.

Godfrey Hendrickse said: “It is 26 years later. It has been a long journey, and we’re only asking for justice. We’re not money-grabbers. We only want just compensation.”

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