Categories: Government

Land Rights Triumph: South African Commission Settles 83,000 Claims, Eyeing Speedier Justice Ahead

Published by
William Dube
  • Significant Progress in Land Claims: The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights has made substantial progress in settling old land claims in South Africa. The Chief Commissioner, Ms Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, reported that the commission has settled 82,976 claims from 1995 to 2023, benefiting over 2.3 million people.
  • Financial Challenges: Despite its success, the Commission faces considerable challenges, primarily insufficient budget to accelerate the settlement of remaining land claims. This issue is considered significant enough that the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has indicated the department’s intention to present an assessment of potential solutions to the Cabinet.
  • Urgency and Future Plans: Parliament urges the department to treat the resolution of outstanding land claims as a matter of urgency. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, suggested that land expropriation without compensation could be a viable solution to expedite the process and rectify land hunger, highlighting the restitution of land rights as a crucial component of restorative justice as envisioned by the South African Constitution.

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development of South Africa received an encouraging report from the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights yesterday. The Commission highlighted its achievements and challenges in the process of settling and finalising land claims dating back to 1995.

The Chief Commissioner, Ms Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, presented a comprehensive report on the claims lodged before the cut-off date of 30 December 1998. She revealed that the commission has successfully settled 82,976 claims across all provinces, at a total cost of R53 billion ($3.57 billion). This figure includes R22 billion ($1.48 billion) in financial compensation, R25 billion ($1.68 billion) in land acquisition costs, and R5 billion ($337 million) in grants.

The Commission’s efforts have resulted in the settlement of over 3.8 million hectares, benefitting 2.3 million people. The beneficiaries include 175,000 female-headed households and 1,246 individuals living with disabilities. Of the claims finalised between 1995 and 2013, 59,712 were completed across all provinces.

From 1995 to 2023, the Commission finalised 65,410 claims. Ms Ntloko-Gobodo also provided an update on the Lamosa II judgement, a Constitutional Court order from March 2019. As part of the order, the Commission is obliged to submit biannual reports to the Acting Judge President of the Land Claims Court. These reports should contain details on the number of outstanding old order claims, anticipated completion dates, potential obstacles, and proposed solutions.

Ms Ntloko-Gobodo confirmed that the Commission has successfully submitted seven reports in accordance with this court order, with the latest report submitted on 24 January 2023. However, she also pointed out the significant challenges the Commission faces, chief among them being insufficient budget to effectively accelerate the settlement of outstanding land claims.

In response to these concerns, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha, indicated that the department is considering an assessment of potential solutions, which will be presented to Cabinet.

Despite these challenges, the Committee praised the Commission’s efforts. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, expressed his belief that expropriation of land without compensation could be a viable solution to expedite the process and rectify the injustice of land hunger.

The restitution of land rights is a crucial component of restorative justice as envisioned by the South African Constitution. Parliament is urging the Department to address the issue urgently and reaffirms the importance of a program and timetable for settling all outstanding old order claims.

The success of the Commission in settling pre-1998 claims is a significant milestone. However, any delay in settling outstanding claims could hamper the process of restorative justice for post-1998 claims. As the Commission moves forward, it will be under increasing pressure to address these challenges and continue its crucial work.

Table 1: Settlement of Land Claims

PeriodNumber of Claims Settled
1995 to 201359,712
1995 to 202365,410
Claims lodged before 1998 cut-off82,976
Caption: Table 1 shows the number of land claims settled by the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights during different periods.

Table 2: Expenditure on Land Claims Settlement

Expenditure TypeCost (in R billion)
Financial compensation22
Land acquisition25
Grants5
Total53
Caption: Table 2 provides a breakdown of the Commission’s expenditure on settling land claims.

Table 3: Beneficiaries of Land Claims Settlement

Beneficiary CategoryNumber
Total Beneficiaries2.3 million
Female-headed households175,000
People living with disabilities1,246
Caption: Table 3 presents the distribution of beneficiaries of the land claims settlement.

William Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on william@rateweb.co.za