The department of rural development and land reform’s Chief Land Claims Commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo warned the public of land claim scam in the Eastern Cape.
With a 21-day nationwide lockdown looming, Ntloko-Gobodo said she feared that perpetrators of the scam would capitalise on this period to access more communities and persuade them to part with their hard-earned money.
“Land claimants who want to seek advice on the need for external assistance can contact the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner Eastern Cape on 043 700 6000, even during the lockdown period, for clarity.
“I have tasked officials from the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner Eastern Cape to embark on a concerted effort to raise awareness about this scam and its permutations among communities in the province, and to intensify district-based stakeholder engagements, which is currently the primary platform used to provide land claim status updates to communities,” she said.
Ntloko-Gobodo strongly advised that government programmes do not require citizens to pay any money for services.
It was reported that land claimants from areas including Sterkspruit, Mount Ayliff, Mbizana, Flagstaff and Idutwa, were deceived by scammers into paying thousands of rands for assistance with, or fast-tracking of land claims.
She said that claimants should be wary of people who offer what was “ordinarily free government services in exchange for payment”.
“As the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR), we want to advise communities to first get into contact with the local land claims office for advice, guidance or information on the status of claims before deciding to embark on a parallel process that require them to pay money.
“Government is the custodian of the land restitution programme, and the CRLR has the mandate on behalf of government to investigate, and processes restitution claims in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994).
“We are best placed to assess the need for external assistance and can determine if such assistance, even from attorneys is warranted and in good faith,” said Ntloko-Gobodo.
The commissioner said on 11 March, officials from the Office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner Eastern Cape met with members of the South African Police Services and land claimants in Mount Ayliff, after it emerged that the scam had infiltrated the area.
She said claimants were advised to first get into contact with the local land claims office for advice, guidance or information on the status of claims before deciding to embark on a parallel process that required them to pay money.