The department of rural development and land reform has announced that 101 885 hectares of land have been restored to claimants through the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights in the 2015/16 financial year, benefiting more than 63 000 people.
The department said in a statement yesterday that Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti had approved more than R1 billion in financial compensation to claimants during the same period.
“This is a reflection of enduring poverty, unemployment, and income poverty in the historically disadvantaged communities, where most of the claimants opt for money instead of land,” said the minister.
The claims settled were part of the remaining backlog from the land claims lodged during the first reopening of the process between 1995 and 1998. During the first lodgement period, 79 696 claims were lodged, while a total of 78 750 were settled.
“The remaining backlog is primarily the result of claims where disputes have arisen or where competing claims have been lodged. South Africans who were disposed of their land due to the 1913 Natives Land Act have been given a second opportunity to claim for redress until June 2019.”
The land claims process was reopened in 2014 in terms of the Restitution Act to give those who did not lodge their claims for restitution during the first lodgement period an opportunity to do so. Mobile lodgement vehicles were deployed to remote parts of the country, while satellite offices were opened in others.
“As at July 24, a total of 162 767 claims have been lodged since the reopening in June 2014,” said the minister.
“A total of R16 billion has been spent on the restitution programme since 2010. The amount includes R10 billion for the acquisition of land and R6 billion toward the settlement of financial compensation claims.”
The commission added that it was confident that the remaining backlog would soon be eradicated, as additional resources had been allocated to the process.