Restoring people’s dignity

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, Patricia de Lille, says government’s land reform programme aims to address the imbalances of the past and restore dignity to people through land ownership.
“We have made great progress with land releases and handovers but we must move much faster. We must put more urgency into the work of finalising land and title deed transfers especially for restitution and land redistribution cases,” de Lille said.
Speaking at the handing over of title deeds in Thornhill, in the Eastern Cape on Friday, de Lille said the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform noted in its May 2019 report that title deeds are one of the common problem themes addressed by their report as instructed by the terms of reference.
In total, 26 families received title deeds for their land with an estimated municipal value of over R10 million for the five properties measuring more than 2 000 hectares.
“One of the Panel’s recommendations to advance land reform includes the speedy transfer of title deeds/long term and tradable leases to beneficiaries of land reform, including those who occupy land already procured for land reform purposes,” de Lille said.
De Lille said they were acting on that recommendation and finalising the matter by issuing the title deeds of land that was transferred to them by government in 2003 but without title deeds being issued to the beneficiaries.
“There has been some contention around this land but today we are proud that you have overcome all the obstacles,” de Lille said.
She said the beneficiaries were moved from 23 villages in Hershel and Sterkspruit between 1975 and 1976 to an empty piece of land known as Thornhill by the then leader of the Ciskei.
“Before the community were moved to Thornhill, you were promised land, houses, schools and clinics by the South African Deputy Secretary of Bantu Administration.
“However when the community arrived in Thornhill, they only found tents that could not cater for everyone,” de Lille said.
According to de Lille, in March 1994, before the first democratic election on 27 April 1994, the then Minister of Land Affairs approved the allocation proposals for the land by the Commission for Land Allocation to the community of Thornhill.
“Out of the nine properties that were identified for transfer to the Thornhill community, five were under the custodianship of the Department of Public Works and four land parcels were under the Department of Land Affairs.
“Both departments obtained ministerial approval for the transfers in terms of the State Land Disposal Act and National Treasury approved the disposal of the properties to the Thornhill Farms Communal Property Trust,” the Minister said.
De Lille said the registration of the properties to the Thornhill Farms Communal Property Trust took place in June 2003 but the properties were never formally handed over to the beneficiaries with title deeds.
“DPWI transferred these properties on a gratis basis in line with the land reform programme,” the Minister said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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