The packed hall in Westonaria was surprised by a woman wearing pyjamas around midday during the public hearings by the Joint Constitutional Review Committee in Mohlakeng in the West Rand District Municipality.

The committee is this week conducting public hearings in Gauteng on the possible amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation, as part of the nationwide consultations on the issue. As in many areas visited by the Committee, people had varying perspectives on the proposed amendment, with some supporting it and others opposing it.  

Ms Zanele Mandi from Vleihof, with tears streaming down her cheeks, said that she was wearing pyjamas because of circumstances, not as a fashion statement. “It’s been three days that we have been evicted from the land we had occupied. We are literally living on the streets, and I left my belongings on the streets to come and tell this committee that we want land. Amend Section 25 so that we can get land and build houses for ourselves,” Ms Mandi urged.

Since her birth in 1965 she has not had a place to call home, she said, and hopes that the amendment of Section 25 will change this. “We work under labour brokers; we can’t afford to buy houses. Please go tell the president that we need help in Vleihof,” Ms Mandi emphasised.

For Mr Gerald Robertson, the amendment of Section 25 and the expropriation of land without compensation will be tantamount to theft. “How can a proposal be placed before Parliament before there are criteria, clear criteria, as to how will this process will work, who will be identified to receive such property, who will the beneficiaries be?” Mr Robertson asked.

Furthermore, Mr Robertson said the process is unfair, because the President had gone to reassure the king of the Zulu nation that the land under his custodianship will not be touched while the process is underway. He believes there is no need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution.

The committee will next visit Vereeniging and Tshwane to hear the views of people in the area.

Malatswa Molepo
27 July 2018