Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Rich land drives claims

Serjeant at the Bar ("Traditional law denies rights”, March 28) brings attention to a landmark case involving the right of independent or putatively independent ethnic factions in effect to make a unilateral declaration of independence from traditional authorities that have hitherto sought to control their affairs. The legal implications (despite the dissenting views of two of the Constitutional Court justices) are significant for many traditional communities, and especially those in the "platinum belt” of North West.

But the Serjeant omits crucial aspects of the context of this legal challenge. Principally, this concerns the motives of the community (the baKgatla baKautlwana), which wants to secede from the wider authority of the baKgatla baKgafela under the authoritarian chief Nyalala Pilane and constitute themselves as a separate Motlabe tribal authority.

These desires appear to have a deep material basis. The farm on which many of them live, Witkleifontein, is known to be platinum-bearing but it is subject to a land claim — which the baKautlwana argue excludes them — lodged by Pilane in the name of the baKgafela.

In 2011 court papers, the baKautlwana argued that they have an interest not only in the land claim for Witkleifontein but also in respect of two other farms, Rhenosterkraal and Welwewaght, which they assert were purchased with contributions from their former kgosi, Kautlwana, and a number of his followers in 1911 and 1926 respectively.

The baKautlwana conclude that "baKgatla interests in platinum are on properties where we live … but despite this our village is extremely poor and undeveloped … We do not see any of this money and how it is used.”

Another complaint is that proceeds from infrastructure they developed on the land, including three schools, a clinic and a community hall, had all gone into the coffers of Pilane's baKgatla at Saulspoort.

Thus the distribution of proceeds from possible royalties and other financial deals seems to lie at the heart of the matter, as much as the exercise of any constitutional rights. The timing of this (and other) challenges to frequently authoritarian traditional leadership is significant: they have all occurred or in some cases been revived during the platinum "revolution” of the past 20 years. The state has acknowledged the right of these traditional authorities to profit from mining on land they control, hence the issue of ownership is crucial. – Andrew Manson, Mafikeng

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

MK committee to look into Gupta influence in military veteran’s...

Party insiders say a report on the Guptas’ association with leaders of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association will help rid the structure of Jacob Zuma’s most loyal allies

More top stories

‘Vaccinate inmates to avoid crisis’

Delaying the vaccination of prisoners could lead to a public health disaster

Naspers and Prosus in share swap Catch-22

Asset managers are concerned about the share exchange but others welcome it because Naspers has dominated the JSE

As South Africa’s Covid infections surge, the number of jabs...

Hospitals are under strain, nurses are burning out and infections are on the rise, but there are limited Covid-19 vaccine doses available

SAA: PIC allegations are Harith’s albatross

Sipho Makhubela assures that the private equity firm has what it takes to raise the capital to get SAA flying again
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×