File picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA
File picture: Leon Lestrade/ANA

At long last, stolen land will be returned to its rightful owners

By Thami ka Plaatjie Time of article published Mar 4, 2018

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When Jan van Riebeeck landed on the Cape shores on April 6, 1652, he had only his ships, arms, belligerent crew and the remaining provisions. He yearned for one thing: the land of the indigenous people.

Years later, his descendants and their ilk hold possession of more than 70% of the land and feel offended and aggrieved when a call for restitution is mounted. AfriForum threatens to escalate the matter to an international forum, arguing that property rights are not being respected.

The recent land audit has established that blacks, who number about 45.4 million, own less than 10% of the land, whereas whites, who number 4.5 million, own about 70%.

The first object of dispute between the Africans and colonialists was based on greed for our land. Racism became an alibi to justify land thuggery, criminality and a holocaust.

Successive rapine colonial rule witnessed the loss of African land and the impoverishment of our people. The story of Krotoa illustrates this fact and the many historical studies by Richard Elphick, Hermann Giliomee and Paul Maylam attest to the crime.

The ascendency of British rule in 1806 heralded another chapter of criminal dispossession with the continuation of the so-called Frontier Wars. Each ended in the alienation of vast tracks of land that affected the amaXhosa, amaZulu, baPedi and baSotho, to name a few.

The discovery of minerals accentuated more land greed and the demand for labour. The end of the Boer War created a truce between the colonial interests of the British industrialists and mining magnates with those of Afrikaner farmers, resulting in a concerted effort to take away more land from the Africans.

The 1913 Land Act consummated the injustice and fed the insatiable greed for farming land and labour demands. The injustice was perpetuated with brazen callousness and profound disregard for the well-being of Africans, who lost land and became impoverished as all their productive rights to the land and food security were abruptly terminated.

On February 17 this year, our people spoke in unison, demanding the repeal of the most nefarious of the sections in the constitution that held our national Struggle hostage and pandered to the whims and designs of the landed gentry. The section glorifies theft, spits in our faces and emasculates our collective nationhood.

When the EFF made the brief walk to the podium, it opened a new chapter in the annals of the post-1994 political struggle. When commander-in-chief Julius Malema finished his remarks, the decks were clear and the battle lines were drawn. True to form, the DA was spitting fumes in defence of the loot that most of its members possess. It was exposed for what it is - a custodian of the propertied class. It had no case. The Freedom Front Plus threatened doom. Comrade Mosiuoa Lekota of Cope spoke like one fresh from Mars - he mumbled, stumbled and fumbled.

African People's Convention leader Themba Godi wished Robert Sobukwe were alive to witness such a great spectacle of African unity and the return of the land.

ANC MP Gugile Nkwinti seconded the EFF's motion and committed the ruling ANC to repeal section 25 of the constitution.

The white opposition parties looked like people affected by a plague. Their talk about the rule of law and justice was exposed as empty utterances.

The heavens have not fallen and the skies dawned the perennial blue when South Africa took the long-awaited journey to return the land. What a befitting tribute to Sobukwe.

* Plaatjie is an adviser to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent

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