“We want our land back”: Northern Cape joins increasing land chorus

Joshua Tas (centre) says his father's land was taken away and he has no place to stay. (Paul Botes/M&G)

Joshua Tas (centre) says his father's land was taken away and he has no place to stay. (Paul Botes/M&G)

Emotions ran high at Northern Cape’s final public hearing into land expropriation without compensation, with the overwhelming majority of oral submissions calling for an amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.

Making their way into Kimberley’s City Hall, where the hearing was held, a group of people toyi-toyi’d to songs demanding land. Inside the packed hall, cries of “amandla” was often heard following oral submissions by those in favour of the mooted move. 

READ MORE: Northern Cape Nama farmers fear expropriation of ancestral land

The hearing forms part of national hearings on a review of section 25 of the Constitution — which deals with property rights — to make it possible for the state to expropriate land “in the public interest without compensation”.

Earlier this year, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces resolved to mandate the joint constitutional review committee to review this section of the Constitution. More than 700 000 written submissions forms from the public were made.

AgriSA and AfriForum representatives were among those opposed to any amendment of the Constitution.

AfriForum’s Johann Weber said Section 25 was “not only about land, it is also about property” more broadly.

“If we break down property rights ...
we destroy the foundation of South Africa,” Weber said. 

READ MORE: Kuruman public hearings join the call for land expropriation without compensation

As part of his submission, Gaopalelwe Motebe, provincial chairperson of Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), countered: “This situation is untenable. In this province, only 5% of land is in state hands. If we don’t return the land, what was the struggle for? Without justice there will be no peace.”

Khoisan king, !Xuptema January, said, “land should be returned to its rightful owners”.

“I will take my land back,” he added.

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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