Land restitution is an urban issue

Most people think land restitution is about farmland but the majority of cases lodged with the department of rural development and land reform are for urban land.

According to the land audit report of 2013, about four million hectares are used for agriculture, closely followed by more than 3.1 -million hectares for residential purposes.

When deciding the appropriate recommendation for each case, the department needs to establish the nature of the rights lost and how they can be restored. These rights differ in terms of urban and rural claims as some people were removed using different laws such as the Group Areas Act and the Native Trust Land Act.

According to a report compiled in 2003 by the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape, among the achievements of restitution has been the settlement of large numbers of urban claims, which tend to be for smaller pieces of land and often involve individual families.

“Some of them [urban land claims] were grouped together, such as the Port Elizabeth Land and Community Restoration Association, West Bank and East Bank claims in the Eastern Cape, Alexandra in Gauteng, and District Six in Cape Town.A total of 63 455 claims were originally lodged by the end of 1998 and, by March 2003, 36 488 claims were settled,” the report states.

READ MORE: The battle for restitution in Alex is never-ending

It was only in 2002 that the then minister of agriculture and land affairs called for rural claims to be prioritised.But to date the number of claims has not changed much, with more than 80 000 restitution claims lodged, consisting of about 70% urban claims and 30% rural claims.

Phuti Mabelebele, the spokesperson for the department, said the reason urban land claims are resolved faster is because information about the dispossession can be tracked at the deeds office and other institutions.“However … challenges hamper the process, namely verification of claimants’ families in relation to the original dispossessed person,” she said.

Mabelebele added that other difficulties include that claimants would not accept financial offers because of family conflicts and differences of opinions within the claimant families.Scarcity of urban land for restitution purposes has also been a problem for the department.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

Advertisting

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories