SA gov't pays R66m to land claimants

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The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is to kick-start the year with R66 million worth of payouts to cover land claims The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is to kick-start the year with R66 million worth of payouts to cover land claims

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is to kick-start the year with R66 million worth of payouts to cover land claims

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is to kick-start the year with R66m worth of payouts to cover land claims to various communities in the Eastern Cape after the programme stalled for several months in the 2010-11 financial year due to insufficient funds.

The department was allocated R7,3bn in last year’s budget for land reform after being forced to suspend aggressive land purchases in 2010 owing to a lack of funds. The priority for the department was to use the new funds to settle the estimated R500m it could not pay to willing land sellers.

Last month, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti told land claimants in Graaff-Reinet, where he distributed R100m to beneficiaries, that all land claims would be finalised within 10 years.

The minister also promised to start settling all land claims below R5m to those who have opted for cash instead of reclaiming land.

Mr Nkwinti said yesterday that the timing of the payout later this month "will prove perfect for the parents who will be sending their children to school and tertiary institutions".

The minister’s spokesman, Mtobeli Mxotwa, said land claimants who had been underpaid in Somerset East would also be receiving a R1,7m top-up to make up for a shortfall in their earlier payout last year.

The Somerset land claimants were forcibly removed from their former homes in Somerset East when the Group Areas Act was passed in 1950.

Mr Mxotwa said officials from the department would next week visit 368 families in Tyutyu village, near Bhisho, to finalise payouts totalling R26m to the victims of forced removals in the area.

The families will be receiving between R56377 and R95303 in compensation for lost properties.

While some of the families lost their homes, there were those who were not compensated for arable or grazing land. The families were forcibly removed to accommodate the now-defunct Ciskei homeland when it was granted "independence" in 1981.

Skobeni village claimants, near Bhisho, will receive R23m, while Balasi village claimants, also near Bhisho, will be paid R16,3m for the loss of their homes when Bhisho became the capital of the Republic of Ciskei.

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Land Reform in South Africa  |  Gugile Nkwinti
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