Thousands of hectares of state land to be returned to dispossessed families
Public Works and Infrastructure Department Minister Patricia de Lille has announced the release of hundreds of land parcels to South Africans across various provinces and in the process reversing the legacy of apartheid by returning land to dispossessed families and people of colour who were stripped of their dignity.
On Sunday, the department indicated that the land was released in line with the government’s commitment to land restitution, redistribution and tenure.
In a statement, De Lille said the department was in the process of returning land to dispossessed families and that the process itself has been a long one but one that should be hastened with urgency 'so that claimants can finally have closure as they have already waited too long since the land claims process closed in 1999'.
Following her appointment, De Lille had indicated that the issue of spatial planning would also be one of the issues that she would take up as part of doing away with apartheid spatial planning which placed black people away from their workplaces and job opportunities.
De Lille said she had already signed off numerous requests for releasing land under the custodianship of her department for human settlements and restitution purposes over the past ten months.
“In October, one hundred and sixty-seven (167) portions of state-owned land measuring fourteen thousand, one hundred and five (14 105) hectares held by the DPWI was approved by Cabinet to be released. In addition to the 14 105, DPWI has processed the release of an additional 648 hectares of land has since been approved for release for human settlements developments,” she said.
In the Eastern Cape, she said various state-owned properties were released in Humansdorp to settle the restitution claim by the direct descendants of the AmaMfengu community that settled in the Tsitsikamma area during the Anglo-Xhosa “frontier wars” of 1833 – 1834.
“The AmaMfengu Community were dispossessed of their land and forcibly removed from the claimed properties in October 1927. Their removal was done in terms of the Black Administration Act of 1972. Fifteen other properties under the custodianship of DPWI were found to be available for the restitution claim,”she said.
She said the 15 properties were more than 4 000 hectares in size, with their collective value standing around R18.8million.
In the Northern Cape, De Lille said the department indicated that it had released four state owned properties to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to settle the restitution claim by the Doraan family.
“This claim was lodged before the 31 December 1998 cut-off date and complied with the provisions of the Restitution of Land Right Act, 1994. The market value as at March 2018 for the four erven (2.8 hectares) being transferred to the Doraan family stood at approximately R3.2million,” she said.
In KwaZulu Natal, around 2.1 hectares of state-owned land has been released to the eThekwini Municipality for human settlements purposes in Cato Manor for the upgrading and formalisation of the informal settlement.
Other released portions of land were in Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo.
De Lille said she had also acceded to the request by the City of Tshwane to release a portion of Farm Elandsfontein for human settlements where around 4 houses would be built for the benefit several informal settlements.