Lobby group AfriForum has expressed concern at what it believes was a “watered down land claim process which saw taxpayers footing the bill”.
The organisation was responding to an announcement by agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza that as much as R1.7 billion had been paid out to 37,920 claimants, reports Centurion Rekord.
ALSO READ: Centurion land claim resistance grows
The announcement was part of a report tabled by Didiza in parliament on August 2.
“AfriForum has already expressed its concern on various occasions in the past about the reckless and baseless manner in which land claims are being managed,” said AfriForum’s legal and risk manager Marnus Kamfer.
“The unsound way in which these claims are investigated causes enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money to be spent.
“If an applicant, therefore, submits a claim, but the claim fails, the taxpayer has to foot the bill for any costs incurred as a result of an opportunistic chancer,” the organisation said.
“The current claim process followed by government creates an opportunity for anyone who meets the criteria to try to submit a fraudulent claim for land with almost no merit in the hope of a windfall from the state – without any risk to the claimant.”
Kamfer said AfriForum was opposing various claims.
This included one in Centurion “where the land claims commission attempts to push through claims based on hearsay evidence by informing property owners that their properties would not be expropriated”.
“Instead, other options are being investigated, such as financial compensation by the state – all in a bid to finalise these claims with the least possible resistance,” he said.
Kamfer confirmed that AfriForum’s researchers were still establishing the validity of the claim in Centurion, which has been dragging on for 20 years.
“Once we have compiled our report it will be sent to the land claims commission to oppose the claim,” he said.
AfriForum’s head of community safety Ian Cameron said AfriForum “cannot allow taxpayers’ money to be squandered on baseless land claims”.
“The organisation will continue to fight the current state of affairs.”