Land Claims Court starts project to speed up restitution claims
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Cape Town - The Land Claims Court has begun a project aimed at accelerating land restitution claims, and has urged everyone involved in prosecuting land claims to participate.
Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said: “The Land Claims Court, which is mandated to adjudicate all contested land restitution claims, is unable to adjudicate such claims unless they are referred to it.
“The slow rate of processing and of referring land claims to the court is therefore impeding the expeditious adjudication thereof.”
According to a report by the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights to the Land Claims Court on November 18 last year, there were 7 049 outstanding land claims as of June 2020.
Of these, 81 claims had been referred to the Land Claims Court since July 28, 2016, the date when the commission was ordered to report to the court on the issue of outstanding claims by the Constitutional Court.
The order came during a case on the issue of outstanding claims by the Land Access Movement of South Africa and others against the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.
Land Claims Court acting Judge President Yasmin Meer said: “With a view to expediting land restitution claims, the court is impressing on the commission and all parties involved in prosecuting land claims to participate in its project to efficiently and fairly bring outstanding claims to finality.
“To this end, the court has also considered it appropriate to issue directions and impose deadlines on all parties and the commission.
“The court looks forward to the co-operation and renewed commitment of all stakeholders in bringing all outstanding claims to finality and achieving the objectives of the legislation expeditiously and fairly in the interests of all affected parties.”
In March, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola promised that the Land Court Bill, which has been approved by the Cabinet for submission to Parliament, would ensure stronger judicial oversight over claims.
“This must lead to better settlements, reduce the scope for corruption and avert the bundling of claims into dysfunctional mega-claims that lead to conflict.
“The bill also seeks to address the systemic hurdles that make it difficult for land claimants to obtain land restitution.”