No need for violence in land process, says parliamentary committee after farm manager thrown in fire

The agriculture, land reform and rural development portfolio committee said land restitution is highly emotive but violence should not be part of the process.
The agriculture, land reform and rural development portfolio committee said land restitution is highly emotive but violence should not be part of the process.
Image: 123RF/Helen Filatova

Land restitution is highly emotive but violence should not enter the process.

This is the message from the agriculture, land reform and rural development portfolio committee following the horrific attack on a farm manager on a 7,500-hectare KwaZulu-Natal farm valued at more than R300m.

"Whilst we understand that the land restitution process is highly emotive and tied to the trauma, pain and suffering arising from historic dispossession, we can never allow violence to define a process that is intended to be restorative, healing and advancing reconciliation and social cohesion.

"We appeal to all individuals and communities involved in land claims and restitution processes not to take the law into their own hands, regardless of the circumstances," said the committee's chairperson Mandla Mandela.

The farm manager was hospitalised with burns on Saturday after "violent thugs" invaded a farm, set it alight and allegedly threw him into a fire. 

It is alleged that there is a division within the Mathulini Communal Property Association (CPA) at Mtwalume, where a group of people had approached the Land Claims Court over claims to the same land.

"There are sufficient provisions in the land reform process to deal with disputes and counter claims. Such claims still have full recourse to procedural justice and other legal provisions. We cannot condone acts of criminality, as these do not advance the process of land reform or restitution. Such vile acts are not only uncalled for, but also further diminish the integrity of claims or counter claims," Mandela said.

Parliament has amended the Communal Property Association Act to enable government departments to make interventions to address internal conflicts within CPAs.

"The Office of the Registrar of CPAs, envisaged in the amended legislation, will have adequate resources and capacity to make interventions and resolve conflicts which are often the reason for the existence of concerned groups within CPAs.

"In terms of the 2019/20 budget that the committee has been processing, it is understood the department of rural development and land reform (DRDLR) plans to ensure that 443 CPAs are assisted as a matter of priority to be compliant with the legislation, in terms of accountability, term of office for office bearers, and upholding their respective constitutions," said the committee spokesperson Sureshinee Govender.


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