The tears streaming down her face represented the almost 14 years of frustration Ms Lilian Mazibuko Radebe has experienced trying to get land she can use to uplift her family and community in Sedibeng District Municipality. She hopes these frustrations will now be a thing of the past, with the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.

Ms Radebe was addressing the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution. Amending the Constitution will make it possible to expropriate land without compensation and the Ad Hoc Committee is currently conducting public hearings in Gauteng to gather public input on how the Constitution should be amended. Ms Radebe said that she has knocked on many doors, but the Department of Rural Development was frustrating her initiatives to farm.

“In 2006, I identified land that we could use to farm and approached the Department of Rural Development to enable access to that land. To this day, I neither have a title deed or lease for the land because I am being sent from pillar to post. The Department of Land Reform has failed me,” Ms Mazibuko-Radebe said. She emphasised that she is hopeful that the amendment of Section 25 will assist her to have access to the land she yearns for.

For Ms Dineo Moleko, death is a bitter eventuality she has to face with the prospect of never owning land. “We are old. We have been running around and we don’t see any progress. Why are we being forced to buy land when our land was taken from use using mirrors. Government says people must plant vegetables in the backyards, but white people are planting using hectares of land,” Ms Moleko said.

She told the committee that she was part of the first group of land claimants that lodged their claim in 1995, but nothing is forthcoming. “We grew with farming in our households, but we are now eating food which we have not planted because we don’t have land to farm,” Ms Moleko lamented. She said she supported the amendment of Section 25 to reclaim what rightfully belonged to her and to reconnect with the age-old tradition of farming.

Ms Nonhlanhla Mahlangu vehemently opposed the payment of compensation, as she was of the view that you cannot pay for something that was stolen. “Paying for land will be like double jeopardy against the people that suffered dispossession. Government should rather use the money they were made to purchase land and use it for the development of beneficiaries so that the land can be used productively,” Ms Mahlangu said.

The Department of Rural Development was criticised for being a barrier to effective land reform process which if changed will not require the amendment of Section 25. Mr Eddy Van Eck said the department was a perennial under spender of its budget which impacted negatively the ability to achieve equality in land ownership.

“I am against the amendment of section 25 as it will amount to stealing. Land reform is being stymied by the department of land reform that has underspend on its budgeted,” Mr Van Eck said.

Following the conclusion of the Gauteng hearings, the committee will undertake hearings in the three remaining provinces – Limpopo, and Northern and Western Cape.

Malatswa Molepo
17 March 2020