THE Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CLC) has pointed out the country’s land policy as enshrined
in the constitution as one of its obstacles towards addressing the land question in the country.
CLC National Research Manager Advocate Sandile Ngobese spoke exclusively to African Times earlier this week about the commission’s role in untangling the land question in the country.
Ngobese said the constitution fails to address the grievances of many Africans who were disposed of their land by the
colonial regime before the land act of 1913 was enacted.
“There are many people who come to us with land claims to go back to 1910 and way before that and according to the constitution, we cannot be able to investigate those cases as we are confined to the land claims that happened as a result of the 1913 land act,” said Ngobese.
He said the commission had been approached by former land owners who were victims of colonial land dispossession but the commission’s hands were tied.
“Even if we try and address the issue of their claim we are not allowed by the constitution to go into those cases because they don’t form part of the land policy and property ownership clause as per the constitution,” added Ngobese.
The commission had its attempt to extend the cut-off date for land claims in the country to 2019 scuppered by a constitutional court judgment that orders the department of Rural Development and Land reform to go back to the drawing board. “Basically the judgment said we should go back to do more public participation and we are busy with that. Once that process has been concluded we shall go back to the court and make representation, we have two years to do so.”
With less than 10% of the land transferred to black ownership, the commission has, on the other hand, forked out billions of rands inland claims.
“One of the major challenges that we faced was that the amount of money that some of the willing sellers wanted for the land claims was exorbitant and as such, we paid lots of money for land that could have been acquired for much less,” added Ngobese.
The CLC National Research Manager said the commission discouraged beneficiaries of land claims from accepting monetary payment instead of getting back the land.
“Some of the people that lodged land claims that were later approved by our inspectors chose to get money instead of ownership of land and we discourage that because it doesn’t solve the land question,” said Ngobese.
The commission is in the process of being independent of the Rural and Land Reform department as it forges ahead with plans to be part of chapter nine institutions such as the Office of the Public Protector and Independent Electoral Commission.