Land: The people speak – We are all Africans, Rustenburg residents say

South Africa’s controversial Expropriation Bill, which will enable the state to make compulsory purchases of land to redress racial disparities in land distribution

Members of the Rustenburg community and those in surrounding areas have had their turn to share their views on the highly-emotive land issue, and most of them support an amendment to the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation.

Only a handful were against the move.

Stories about life in the villages, on the farms and under traditional leaders in the platinum-rich province formed the basis of the opinions shared by residents, who spoke for three minutes each.

“Who will protect you next time?” Cheryl Phillips asked in a packed Rustenburg Civic Centre.

She said currently, black people were saying that land should be expropriated from white people but wondered what would happen in the future.

Phillips, who was one of the few people against the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, said there was nothing wrong with the Constitution. Instead, the ANC government had failed the people, she said.

land grab sa
Illegal land grab on the increase in South Africa

She also argued that, as a white person, she deserved to be called an African.

LAND OVERVIEW: Section 25, to amend or not – the people continue to speak

“We want ownership of land. We don’t want to be tenants on anybody’s land… How far back do you want to go to draw the line? We can go as far back as the cradle of humankind which showed that we are all Africans,” she told the hall.

Although the Rustenburg sitting was less heated than the one in Mahikeng the previous day, some members of the public booed and made their voices heard when views they did not agree with were expressed.

Nkateko Mabunda, who agreed with Phillips, said expropriating land without compensation was “not empowerment but enslavement”.

Mabunda said her parents already had land and she would never accept it being expropriated from them.

“Le palelwa ke King Zwelithini ko KwaZulu-Natal (You are struggling to deal with King Goodwill Zwelithini in KwaZulu Natal),” Mabunda said to the ANC and EFF members in the house.

Her comment comes after the ANC and the government took swift action to allay the fears of both King Zwelithini and several traditional leaders over tribal land that might be expropriated.

Their view was also reiterated by Simon Aphane, who said he and his family had benefited from Section 25.

“It is just the ANC that is lazy. Even its former president was called a constitutional delinquent, which shows that they didn’t know what they were talking about,” Aphane said to the room.

Aphane mentioned chair of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise’s farm where animals were neglected.

“Thandi Modise inherited the people’s land, a farm and pigs, which died. She would just give land to her people,” he claimed.

Resident Deon Geldenhuys insisted that the land debate was merely a legal issue and was racist.

“Racism in the Constitution is outlawed. Taking land from white people is racist, it’s illegal,” said Geldenhuys.

He asked the hall if people were truly comfortable with the idea of changing Section 25, adding that people would have land but not really own it.

However, people like Rabosweni Malele who agreed with land expropriation without compensation expressed some concern over how this would be achieved.

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“I want to agree with expropriation without compensation but because of this province’s corruption, I have a problem,” Malele told members of the public.

“If they can take people who are not traditional leaders and make them traditional leaders [so they benefit], that opens a gap for corruption in the process,” he said.

Malele said he wanted the government to establish ways to ensure the process was not corrupted in order to make sure land was returned to its rightful owners.

Read more on:    land expropriation  |  land

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