UNDER SIEGE: Farmers in the Philippi Horticultural Area say they no longer want to farm there because of the rampant crime, which is threatening their lives and their livelihood.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
The powerful quote by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Presidential Land Restitution ceremony in Moretele Park laid bare the atrocities that black people suffered during the enactment of the 1913 Natives Land Act.

The ceremony was to restore land to the descendants of the Mahlangu and Malobola, whose land was dispossessed in the aftermath of the 1913 Land Act. The president quoted Sol Plaatje, who told the story of an African family evicted from their land who had to bury a child under cover of darkness because they had no right or title to the lands.

The Sol Plaatjie quote read: “Even criminals dropping straight from the gallows have an undisputed claim to six feet of ground on which to rest their criminal remains, but under the cruel operation of the Natives’ Land Act little children, whose only crime is that God did not make them white, are sometimes denied that right in their ancestral home.”

The quote sent chills down my spine as a I pondered how life must have been. However, fortunately today I have taken cues from the remnants of apartheid and colonial rule that transcended the ages and whose might is also felt by the current generation.

I echo the sentiment of Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who said the oppressive regime that made black South Africans landless produced inequality, sowed division and fertilised poverty.

As a result, I concur with those who say land reform is the only recourse that will bring redress to our disenfranchised souls. 

As I watched the ceremony in Mamelodi, a total of R203 million that was restituted to nine families who opted for financial compensation due to developments on the land previously occupied by their ancestors, I rejoiced for the positive ramifications of this.

The land reform process has the potential to calibrate the process of economic and social value of land for productive use and a secure place to live, which will automatically correct matters of asset inequality, poverty reduction and food security.

Themba Mzula Hleko