ConCourt to hear CPI restitution case

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An application about the use of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to determine compensation in a land claim will be heard in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

Isabel Joyce Florence will seek leave to appeal against a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment, upholding an earlier Land Claims Court decision that the CPI can be used to calculate the present value of the land her family was forced to leave in 1970.

Florence also seeks an order directing the government to pay for a memorial plaque to be erected on the land, in Rondebosch, Cape Town.

Florence’s family lived on the land for almost 20 years. They entered into a sale agreement with the previous owner and paid the full purchase price.

Under the Group Areas Act however, the transfer of the property was prohibited and the family was forced off the land in 1970. The Florences started the land claim process in 1995, initially for the restoration of the property, but later agreed to financial compensation. They also wanted a memorial plaque erected on the property, as a symbolic gesture, which the property’s owner agreed to.

Florence argues that the use of CPI to calculate the present-day value of the property is inappropriate because it does provide equitable redress, as envisioned in the Restitution of Land Rights Act.

She wants the government to pay for the memorial plaque, arguing it falls within a court’s powers to grant alternative relief under the act.

The government argues that financial compensation for land claims is intended to restore the claimants to their position immediately after dispossession if they had been properly compensated. As such, the government argues that CPI is an appropriate means of calculating the change in the value of money over time.

On the memorial plaque, the government contends it was not party to the agreement reached with the land owner. It noted that the Land Claims Court previously awarded Florence R10,000 in recognition of the hardship of forced removal and the indignity she suffered. This served the same purpose as a memorial plaque, the government argues.


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