Communal land and land in the trust of traditional leaders should not form part of the process in amending the Constitution to provide for the expropriation of land without compensation. That was the unanimous message from various traditional leaders in Bethlehem in the Free State. These leaders were part of the public attending the hearings of a delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution.

King Michael Links of the Korana, a Khoisan community in Free State, acknowledged the wars of resistance of the Korana and Basuto fought under King Moshoeshoe. A group of Korana representatives participating in the hearings said the land held in trusts should not be included in this process, as their leadership will share it with those under their area of jurisdiction. 

King Letsitsa III of the Bakhlolokoe reinforced the message of the King of the Korana and emphasised the spiritual and developmental role of institution of African royalty. Ms Maria Malinga, a traditional healer who played a prominent role in the cleansing of the infamous Vlakplaas where the freedom fighters were tortured and killed by the apartheid police, pleaded for the special protection of sacred sites, like those associated with freedom fighters.

At the start of the meeting, the committee chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga called on the public to respect differing views. “People’s power is based on the power of the people. That is why you are you. We could not change Section 25 of the Constitution without talking to the people. Today we want you to say that what you want to see changed in Section 25.”

Ms Lindiwe Makhalima said land is a priority for the people of South Africa. The political freedom they obtained in 1994 cannot be complete without economic freedom.

Former Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Mr Roy Jankielsohn said property rights need to be protected, otherwise there will be no economic growth. Since we started this process, the economy suffered due to few investments. “Without investment, no tax base, without tax base, no social grants. People are already suffering. Without that our people suffer even more.”

A man claiming to be a leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the area, said the state has obligation to redress imbalances of past and this should happen without compensation. Ms Sophia Jacobs said those who had been living for long on farms should get the title deeds.

Dr Motshekga said the committee commended the crowd for its exemplary conduct and its quality contributions to the hearings. He also encouraged South Africans to attend the public hearings that will be happening around the country, especially if they did not take the opportunity to make written submissions on the Bill, which closed at the end of February.

Rajaa Azzakani
10 March 2020