ConCourt to rule on farm tenant claims

Zabalaza Mshengu died last year without seeing the resolution of a lengthy court battle affecting more than 11 000 outstanding land claims by farm tenants.

It appears that thousands of labour tenants like Mshengu, who have endured a frustrating two-decades wait for the settlement of their claims, have much longer to wait for justice. Even if the Constitutional Court rules in their favour, the claims must still be settled.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is due to present arguments in the Constitutional Court for the reinstatement of a 2016 land claims court order to appoint a special master — an independent person to assist in the processing and adjudication of labour tenant claims.

The case was initially lodged by the Association for Rural Advancement (Afra) and the LRC in 2013 on behalf of 35 families, including Mshengu’s. The families were living on land owned by the Hiltonian Society in KwaZulu-Natal on which the prestigious Hilton school is built. They have claimed restitution of the land, saying it is their ancestral home.

The applicants — Bhekindlela Mwelase, Jabu Agness Mwelase, Bazibile Gretta Mngoma, Mndeni Sikhakhane and Afra — asked the court to appoint a special master, arguing that the 11 000 claims, such as the one lodged by Mshengu in 2000, were getting nowhere because of the bureaucracy around the claims made by labour tenants.


They won in the land claims court, which ordered the department and its director general to appoint a special master. But in August last year the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned this, instead ordering the department of rural development’s director general to develop and implement a plan, which is subject to approval by the Land Claims Court.

The LRC says its appeal to the highest court is based on a “piercing dissenting judgment” by Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie.

In her judgment, Mocumie said the Land Claims Commission had tried ordinary court supervision but it had failed. There was a need for effective relief for the many thousands of vulnerable labour tenants and the department of rural development had thus far experienced grave difficulties in providing this.

She said the size and complexity of the task of settling the land claims alone supported the appointment of a special master to assist the court with monitoring implementation.

The applicants said in a statement they believe the land claims court acted within it powers to appoint a special master to assist it.

They further added that Mocumie holds the same view as theirs — that without interventions such as the one taken by the land claims court, labour tenants would be back before it and the supreme court in the next 10 years still seeking the same relief they sought in the first instance: access to land and security of land tenure.

“Judge Mocumie’s dissenting judgment confirms the view … that specialised and extraordinary court supervision is required to ensure the efficient processing of labour tenant claims. This view needs to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court,” said the applicants.

The matter is set down for May 23. But it has come too late for claimants like Mshengu. —Mukurukuru Media

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lucas Ledwaba
Lucas Ledwaba
Journalist and author of Broke & Broken - The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa.

Related stories

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court hears

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

General Council of the Bar slams Zuma Foundation

Another summons has been served on Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence, requiring the former president to appear before the Zondo Commission next year

CR17 report is not perfect, but the investigation was rational, court hears

So says public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s lawyer, who said she had reason to suspect the money was being laundered through the campaign

Zondo tightens his grip with criminal complaint against Zuma

The state capture commission’s star witness now faces a criminal complaint and another summons

#CR17 fight heads to the Constitutional Court

amaBhungane’s arguments about the disclosure of campaign funding are also expected to be heard

Citizens win case for safe childbirth

In Uganda 16 women in labour die each day. One woman, backed by a civil society organisation, took the state to court
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…