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For frail Mr Shadrack Ndlovu attending the public hearings held by the Constitutional Review Committee was never in doubt. His story is a personal one and his pain cuts to the bone.

Mr Ndlovu was attending the Mbombela public hearings in Mpumulanga on possible amendments to Section 25 of the constitution. He fully supports the amendment of Section 25 so that former farmworkers like him can finally benefit from the land that they have worked hard on for many years. “I agree with the notion that this law must change so that those of us who used to work and didn’t get much must benefit,” Mr Ndlovu emphasised.

His hurt is exacerbated by the fact that he is not the only one who suffered because of landlessness. “My father and my brother worked in a farm and we received R3 salary. Me, my brother and my father didn’t get anything, and when we left they just removed us and we lost our livestock,” Mr Ndlovu explained.

Another community member, Mr Michael Kyson, agrees that people should be compensated and given back land, but he does not believe that the amendment of Section 25 is the way to go. “I know the previous government, the apartheid government made many mistakes, but two wrongs don’t make a right. The farm we are currently farming was not attained through taking from black people, it was bought legally from previous owners,” Mr Kyson emphasised.

Mr Kyson emphasised that the amendment of Section 25 might lead to the total collapse of the economy. “Without farms there are no businesses; there are no jobs,” Mr Kyson said. He employs 150 workers, who each provide for a household of about six family members, so he estimates that the farm feeds about 1 000 people.

He also decried corruption in government that has held back land reform. “I am all for land reform, but with compensation, because if it is without then it will be stealing and the vicious circle will continue without an end,” Mr Kyson concluded.

A representative from Mpumalanga agriculture said that while they acknowledge the need for land reform, government has failed to implement an effective land reform process despite the presence of many laws that enable implementation. “Food security is a stabilising social factor and agriculture provides for food. If ownership is corroded, the hundreds of billions of rands needed to produce food will evaporate,” the gentleman said.

The committee will today hold hearings in Ermelo, before proceeding to Middleburg on Wednesday.

Malatswa Molepo

3 July 2018