Richtersvelders back in court

Opposing groups from the Richtersveld community came face to face in the Land Claims Court in Cape Town on Tuesday as the court prepared to weigh up a settlement agreement.

The agreement was reached in April this year between the state and the Richtersveld Sida !hub Communal Property Association (CPA), which had represented the community through its marathon restitution battle with the government.

However, now that the court is being asked to ratify the agreement as a formal settlement of the Richtersvelders’ land claim, a community “action committee” is seeking to block it.

The committee’s advocate, Barto du Plessis, told Judge Antonie Gildenhuys on Tuesday morning that the group wanted to be allowed a voice in the proceedings. He said it was unhappy about the way the agreement was accepted by the community, and with the content of the agreement itself.

Gerrit Grobler, for the government and Alexkor, objected to the committee being admitted as a party, saying if individual community members had problems with the way the CPA acted, they should act in terms of the CPA constitution.

Advocate Andrew Breitenbach, for the CPA, was granted an adjournment until Tuesday afternoon so he could study a set of replying papers from the action committee and consult his clients.

The community lodged its claim to 84 000ha of diamond-bearing land on the Namaqualand coast currently occupied by the diamond-mining parastatal Alexkor in 1998.

The agreement proposes the return of the land to the community, plus the creation of a joint mining venture with the financially troubled Alexkor.—Sapa

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