Durban - There were mixed emotions on Wednesday night at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre, where 22 families received R22 million in compensation for the loss of their land and homes during apartheid.
The moment brought closure, but at the same time reminded families about the hardships they faced when citizens were racially segregated and parts of the country reserved for white South Africans only.
The recipients were from Cato Manor, Chatsworth, Redhill, Pinetown, Durban central, Phoenix, Ifafa Beach and Harding on the south coast.
Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, chief commissioner of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, admitted that processing the claims had taken quite some time.
Applications had begun in 1994 with a 1998 deadline, but the government had since extended the claim process to 2019 because some people were unaware it existed or did not know where to go to lodge a claim.
Ntloko-Gobodo told the families: “I acknowledge we took a very long time to finalise the first leg of the process, but it’s worth noting that this was a cumbersome task. From 2014 to October 2015, we received 23 000 new claims in KwaZulu-Natal. The claims will be evaluated and investigated to ascertain their authenticity.”
According to the commissioner, as of March last year, the commission settled 77 622 land claims. This resulted in 30 078 million hectares of land approved for settlement (of which 1.6 million hectares were transferred to beneficiaries).
A total of 371 191 households consisting of 1.83 million individuals benefited from the settlement.
“The beneficiaries included 138 487 female-headed households.”
From 1995 to March this year, the total programme expenditure was R24 411 billion for financial compensation, land acquisition and support grants for those who opted for land restoration.
About 8 471 land claims lodged before the 1998 cut-off date have not yet been resolved while others have been settled in part.
“These outstanding claims will be processed simultaneously with the new claims, with priority for payment given to those that were lodged before 1998,” Ntloko-Gobodo said.
Amounts awarded to individual families were not disclosed on Wednesday.
Mlungisi Ndlela, a claimant who had been removed from Cato Manor, said: “There are mixed feelings in that today is a reflection of where we are coming from and how we move forward.
“While we were forcefully removed from Cato Manor to KwaMashu and uMlazi, certain people from the same Cato Manor community were able to get resources, and these were not the black Africans.
“We were kept on the periphery. We were absolutely outside the system. Before the 1998 deadline most black African applicants were rejected for not having proper documents to support their claims. The lack of archiving documents for black people by the previous government must not disadvantage black people when they apply for land restitution.”
Cyril Xaba, MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, said Cato Manor was another shameful chapter in the history of land dispossession in KZN.
“It was also an area of conflict between Africans and Indians. However, historians have confirmed that this conflict had its roots in the divide-and-rule tactics of the apartheid government. The present government has taken a stand against racially incited violence and is committed to unity building.”
Westville businessman, Yusuf Moosa, said his parents were removed from the Warwick Triangle area, and their loss was huge.
“We had a block of flats with 25 units, and in the 1960s, government chased us away, giving us R50 000 for the flats. We moved to Overport in the late 1960s and then to Westville.
“My grandfather had to sell his department stores in the Berea area for R450 000.
“We let go because the government of the time was offering a measly R156 000 for the 6 500m2 property. I have waited 17 years for this claim. I guess now that the government has compensated us for the bad old days, it’s time to let go,” said Moosa.
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