The South African government said it was intensifying the implementation of land reform and restitution programmes so that citizens can leverage land to improve their lives and grow the economy.
“This government is resolute in our commitment to returning the land in an orderly and lawful manner. We shall not allow illegal land occupations,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday at a land restitution ceremony where he handed over 4,586 hectares of land to the community of KwaMkhwanazi in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal province of the country.
“It is our firm belief that communities must take great interest in their land restitution processes and be active participants in all enterprises and activities taking place on their land,” the President added, announcing that as part of the government’s land reform programme, more than more than 20 land claimants will have their land returned to them.
“The concept that will be developed through piloting the Mkhwanazi land claim settlement will be rolled out to other land claims across a number of sectors and industries. This is the first of a number of land claims that we aim to unlock over the next few months,” President Ramaphosa said.
“Government will assist you with post-settlement packages that will develop your ability to create sustainable income and jobs from the land transferred to the Mkhwanazi community. This will deliver ongoing benefits to all of the people living on Mkhwanazi land,” he added.
The KwaMkhwanazi community was forcibly removed from their land in three phases following the enactment of the 1913 Land Act. From 1915 to 1918 the first group of dispossession took place as a result of returning World War I white soldiers. The second phase of dispossession took place in the 1940s, when the white farming community expanded their commercial interests in timber and cane.
At the height of apartheid supremacy the government of the time, between 1958 and 1960, violently removed landowners to cater for the expansion of the white community around Richards Bay and the Mthunzini coast.
Ramaphosa had in August told members of Parliament that “South Africa has taken bold steps to address the colonial and historical injustices, including the dispossession of land and build a more inclusive and stable society in South Africa and the world.
“Government supports land restitution and redistribution, which will redress the sins of the past by allowing access to the land in a way that grows the economy, ensures food security, and increases agricultural production.”