Over 83 000 land claims settled

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Sourced from SAnews.gov.za 

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, says a total of 83 067 land claims have been settled since the inception of the Land Restitution Programme in 1995 to 2023.

Didiza said the number equates to 94% of the old-order claims that have been successfully settled, with about 2.3 million people having benefitted from the restitution.

Presenting the research findings on the evaluation of South Africa’s Land Restitution Programme on Monday, Didiza said a total of R25 billion was spent on the purchase and transfer of 3.9 million hectares.

“An additional R22.5 billion has been spent on financial compensation for those beneficiaries who elected for financial compensation. Between 2019 and 2023, a total of 1 494 claims were settled, largely fuelled by the department’s interventions in fast-tracking the settlement of claims,” Didiza said.

The study, which started in 2018 and included 2 664 households and 3 378 people, who were sampled and interviewed, found that the economic power of the restitution beneficiaries increased by 16%, measured in per capita per month, relative to the control sample.

The Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 is among the first laws passed by the democratically elected government.

This was done with the conscious acknowledgement that land justice is paramount, and restoration of Black people’s dignity and freedom is central to a democratic dividend, said the Minister.

The Restitution of Land Rights Act made provisions for the restitution of rights in land to people or communities dispossessed of such rights after 1913.

The constitutionality of land restitution is preserved in Section 25(7) of the Constitution of South Africa which states that “a person or community dispossessed of property after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to restitution of that property or to equitable redress”.

Didiza said families of forced removal victims were fragmented for decades, and conflicts that arose at post-settlement claims were a function of a lack of social cohesion and trust created during a lengthy period of disintegration.

The Minister said investments in communication and social cohesion programmes would assist in mitigating the information gap and building trust among beneficiaries.

She said from the study findings, the department can draw some policy insights.

“Firstly, the study findings are enlightening us to understand that land restitution is not only about financial and economic justice but also psychological and social restoration, a lesson we should bear in mind when we evaluate the success or failures of land restitution projects.

“Secondly, over and above the post-settlement support and skill training, which we are already providing to beneficiaries as the government, there is an additional need to formulate community integration programmes,” Didiza said. – SAnews.gov.za 

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