Cape Town – Amendments to the Land Restitution Act that would allow the government to process pre-1913 land dispossession claims have been welcomed by some organisations, but they want clarity on the process.
The chairman of the National Khoisan Council, Cecil le Fleur, said the Khoi-San community had always fought for the cut-off date to be extended beyond 1913.
“It is a difficult process ahead but at least we are on the right path.
“We will have to get through those challenges and get justice for the Khoisan people. There should be a lot of redress in this.
“There is no clear indication as to how this process will be rolled out in practice, but I’m sure that is something we will know soon,” Le Fleur said.
Although they welcomed the government’s turnaround, there would be challenges along the way, including claimants having to prove ownership of land when most dispossessions were never recorded.
He said most of the claims would most likely be from communities as opposed to individuals. Other claims would originate from chiefs and traditional leaders.
Le Fleur said a steering committee of the council’s members, government officials, researchers and historians, had been selected to come up with ideas on the process.
!Khari!as Arends, chief custodian for the Hoengeyqua Peoples Council, said the council was cautious in welcoming the process because it may be yet another government “exercise”.
“The whole of Kat River is subject to be claimed by the Hoengeyqua people. Most of these people are living in the diaspora (George, Freihmersheim, Port Elizabeth, Transkei and elsewhere) after being hounded by the Ciskei National Independence Party and the National Party.
“Most of these people in the diaspora want to return to their ancestral lands but no support is given by the government,” Arends said.
He wanted clarity on how the process would benefit Khoisan people.
Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas), Michael Aliber, said opening the process to claimants who missed the previous deadline was “long overdue”.