Cape Town - The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights is saddled with nearly 7 000 outstanding land claims that are yet to be finalised, dating back to the 1998 deadline for the submission of claims.
The figure is separate from the more than 160 000 land claims that were yet to be processed when the commission was interdicted in 2019 by the Constitutional Court.
This was revealed by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza when she responded to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Sam Matiase.
Matiase said the Constitutional Court had in a ruling, commonly known as the Land Access Movement of South Africa (Lamosa) judgment, put in abeyance the processing of claims that were lodged between 2014 and 2016 until all land claims lodged by December 1998 were finalised.
Parliament had sought to re-open the window period for land claims though the enactment of an amendment Act that provided for new claims to be lodged until June 2019.
The court declared the amendment invalid and gave Parliament 24 months to fix the constitutional defects on the grounds it failed to meet to facilitate adequate public participation.
However, the national legislature did not meet the deadline and its application for extension was not successful, a move that resulted in the interdict to process “the new order claims”.
In his parliamentary questions, Matiase wanted to know from Didiza the date when the old land claims lodged by the December 1998 deadline would be finalised.
Matiase also enquired about the date the processing of the claims lodged between July 2014 and July 2016 began, and the amount it would cost the state to settle the claims.
In her written response, Didiza said the Land Claims Commission has a total of 6 685 outstanding claims dating from the 1988 deadline.
Her response showed that KwaZulu-Natal had the most outstanding claims at 2 124, followed by Mpumalanga with 1 588, Limpopo with 1 349 and Eastern Cape 657.
Western Cape has 338 outstanding claims, Gauteng 379, North West 208, Northern Cape 37 and Free State only five.
“The commission has created a 5-year project plan which will be concluded, depending on available resources,” she said about resolving the 1998 deadline claims.
Didiza also said the land claims made between 2014 and 2016, popularly known as “new order claims”, totalled 163 383.
She said the claims would be processed once Parliament enacted new legislation to allow their processing.
“It would be difficult to forecast for the 163 383 new order claims as we have not conducted any analysis because of the Lamosa judgment, which interdicted the commission from processing these new order claims,” Didiza said.
The commission had in the 2020-21 financial year secured 55 073 hectares of land in the settlement of only 17 claims involving 230 claimants.
Speaking during the budget vote debate last month, Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha said an accumulative total of 82 295 claims have been settled.
Skwatsha said at the time that 3.8 million hectares of land had been secured to the tune of more than R24 billion and R18 billion as financial compensation to the claimants since the 1998 claims were lodged.