Submission to the Commission of Landclaims
WHEREAS various claims have been instituted in land presently owned by private parties;
AND WHEREAS the Resident’s Association of The Reeds, Thatchfield and Rooihuiskraal, a duly registered NPC (herein after referred to as ReThRo) has an interest in the claims on behalf of the property owners of Rooihuiskraal and The Reeds;
AND WHEREAS ReThRo entered into a working relationship and information sharing agreement with AfriForum
AND WHEREAS it is acknowledged that certain injustices took place against persons in the past based on racially discriminating laws or practices;
AND WHEREAS the rights of these persons affected, or their direct descendants, to claim either restitution, alternative land, compensation or any other redress which is feasible in the circumstances, as provided for in the law, are acknowledged;
AND WHEREAS all the rights of the property owners within our area of operation are reserved,
NOW THEREFORE the following submissions/objections are presented:
1. THE RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
1.1 Approximately 1200 of the approximately 1 700 property owners affected by the claim, fall within the area of operation of ReThRo
1.2 In terms of clause 2(2)(b) the constitution of ReThRo, the organisation has as one of its objectives to promote, protect and foster the interests of the residents and property owners in ReThRo
1.3 In terms of the constitution of ReThRo the property owners of Heuweloord as well as other affected property owners are also represented by ReThRo for this specific purpose. In the same manner ReThRo is working with AfriForum for this specific purpose.
1.4 In addition, a mandate was given to ReThRo to proceed with these representations on behalf of the community in ReThRo at a public meeting held on 19 February 2019.
1.5 After submission have been made, AfriForum will use their reseources for any further actions that need be taken.
Although we reserve all rights in this respect, we do not want to go into too many legal technicalities. However, we do need to mention the following:
2.1 The claims on behalf of the claimants were initially lodged under the Restitution of Land Rights Act, No 22 of 1994 (herein after referred to as the Act) in 1998.
2.2 However, these claims were only published in the Government Gazette on 29 June 2018 .
2.3 Unfortunately the affected property owners were not informed of the claim in terms of Section 11(6) of the Act which provides that:
(6) Immediately after publishing the notice ….. the regional lands claim commissioner shall by notice in writing:-
(i) advise the owner of the land in question or any other party, which in his or her opinion, might have an interest in the claim of the publication in the notice, and
(ii) refer the owner or such other party to the provision of subsection (7).
2.4 A public meeting was held by the regional land claims commission on 10 December 2018 after some of the property owners and/or residents accidentally noted on a Facebook page for people who live in Centurion that such a meeting was to take place 24 hours before the scheduled meeting. This meeting was attended by fewer than 100 people, of which a large number were claimants.
2.5 In addition to the fact that no proper notice had been given about this meeting, the meeting took place during the holiday season while many property owners were on holiday.
2.6 This lead to large-scale uncertainty and even panic amongst the residents and property owners when the claims came to their attention via the grape vine and by word of mouth during January and February 2019. As late as the beginning of April 2019 there were still property owners who did not have knowledge of the claims against their properties.
2.7 To date only 4 property owners have received written notices as contemplated in Section 11 (6)(i).
2.8 Despite this non-compliance with the provisions of the Act, ReThRo is making representations on behalf of its property owners and residents; provided that each individual resident reserves the right to make further representations if they should wish to do so.
3. LEGITIMACY OF CLAIMS
3.1 We do not have the capacity, the expertise or the funds to establish the legitimacy of every single claim.
3.2 We trust that the relevant regional land claims commission will undertake a full investigation to establish the merits of the claims in terms of Section 6(cA) and Section 12 of the Act.
3.3. We are aware of instances in which there are three or even more claims on one property, e.g. 3 Valk Street, Rooihuisraal on which property there are 4 competing claims and we accept that these overlapping claims will be dealt with by way of mediation as envisaged by Section 13(1)(a) of the Act.
3.4 Furthermore, contradictory information was received from the land claims commission, e.g. the photo’s provided by the land claims commission at the public meeting of 10 December 2018 differ from the list of erven provided around middle January 2019, which makes it impossible to state with certainty whether certain erven are effected or not.
Taking into consideration the circumstances and the information presently at our disposal, we state the following:
4.1 The initial claims were filed as long ago as 1998 and since that date the claimants have made no efforts to bring the fact that there were claims on the properties to the attention of the property owners, and allowed further development of the properties affected to take place over a period of 20 years.
4.2 All the property owners obtained their properties in a bona fide manner.
4.3 The area had already been developed and demarcated as a residential area.
4.4 None of the property owners obtained any rights from agricultural properties.
4.5 It will not be just and equitable to deprive these bona fide property owners of their properties in lieu of restitution.
4.6 The bona fides of the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform announced in a press statement on 21 February 2019 are accepted, namely that
All property owners in the area of Centurion covered by this land claim should remain assured that as a responsible government we will ensure that a just and equitable option to settle the land claims will be sought and their properties will not be affected at all.
Prepared by Linda Pienaar and Gina Britz