The Guard

The Truth On Board

Land claimants updated

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Land reform claimants breathed a sigh of relief as a roadshow from the office of the Regional Land Claims Commission in the Free State – known as “Know the Status of your land claims” campaign – answered their burning questions and showed them that there is light at the end of the tunnel regarding their lodged land claims.

The campaign updated claimants that the Free State Province received 3 083 claims lodged between 1994 and 1998, by the deadline of December 31 1998, referred to as the old order claims. To date, 3 075 claims have been settled, and there are currently eight outstanding claims.”

The acting chief director of the Regional Land Claims Commission in the Free State, Lengane Bogatsu, said the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights is doing its best to expedite the settling of the outstanding claims lodged between 1994 to 1998.

“People gathered here must take advantage of this opportunity to check on the status of their land claims.”
Similar roadshows were held in four other local municipalities before proceeding to Maluti-A-Phofung.

Puleng Kokong from Maluti-a-Phofung (MAP) said: “I am very glad that I came here today because we were assisted very quickly and were told that we only need an official letter that needs to be signed by the chief director to state that our claim was received, but since we made the claim in 2015, we have to wait for the 1994 to 1998 claims to be completed before ours can be processed. This was very helpful.”

Enoch Mlangeni of Harrismith said residents of Skomplaas faced brutal evictions and some of the land claimants haven’t received any restitution, something that is very painful and angers a lot of descendants of the previously dispossessed landowners.

“Some of the families who filled in applications and made claims for land in Skomplaas in 1996 received financial compensation but there was a group that claimed in 2000 who gave monies to certain community leaders who just took the people’s monies and did not help them at all.

“A lot of people are still disgruntled about this, that is why I came here today to hear for myself what needs to be done to correct the injustice,” Mlangeni said.

Residents of Mabolela village said that they were also taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals who offered to help them as a collective, but instead took advantage of a group of land claimants.

In response to the Skomplaas issue and residents being taken advantage of, Bogatsu told The Guard: “There were 21 housing projects that I am aware of, that the department gave money to human settlements to work with the municipality to help build houses for the community because the claimants did want land but requested housing.

“There were no proper monitoring systems, so things did not go well. We have our own verification systems to make sure that if the land claimant is no longer alive their descendants get the compensation. Those who take advantage of vulnerable people will be arrested. We don’t solve a problem by creating another problem. I plan to engage with the Municipal Manager (MM) and traditional leadership to make sure we solve this issue by following due processes diligently.”

Of the 3083 land claims that were made in the Free State between 1994 and 1998, only eight of them haven’t been finalized yet and the Constitutional Court in March 2019 confirmed that the commission could not process the more than 10 000 (received in Thabo Mofutsanayana District Municipality) new order claims that were made during the application period between 2014 to 2016.

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights will communicate through media platforms, community engagements and various municipalities when permission is received to work on new order claims (those lodged between 2014-2016) as they are currently not working on them.