Parliament, Friday, 13 March 2020 – The residents of the Chris Hani District and the surrounding areas told the delegation of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation Amending Section 25 of the Constitution that the mandate is clear, that there should be no compensation for the land which they say was stolen from their forebears during the eras of colonialism and apartheid.

They said that Section 25 must be drafted in simple laymen’s language as the current form is not understood easily especially by the people in the rural areas. Furthermore, they argued, that the amendments should be clear and unambiguously written to leave no room for questions.

The clauses such as “nil compensation” they said, should be written in a language that is straight forward, the language that says: “No compensation”. On the role of the courts, the residents said, the outcome of the decision of the court for compensation to be given would grossly contradict the intention of “No compensation” amendment. They argued that the only court that should have jurisdiction on the matter of disputes over land must only be the land claims court, not any other court.

Emphasising this view, several residents that included Mr Sicelo Kopolo of Engcobo Local Municipality said: “If we say there should be compensation, those who have land in their hands will classify which land to be sold to the majority and end up selling unproductive land.”

A large number of residents told the delegation of the committee that there should be absolutely no compensation. They said that those who want compensation cannot claim compensation as they are aware that the land that is going to be expropriated from them was taken by means of violence from its rightful owners.

The residents told the delegation of the committee that they never heard a situation where a thief would be compensated after the recovery of stolen property or goods. Some residents proposed that the expropriated land should be under the custodianship of traditional leaders.

Representing the Kings that are within the OR Tambo and Chris Hani districts, Chief Vulindlela Mditshwa of Amampondomise said: “If Section 25 of the Constitution is an impediment on the way of reconstruction and development for the improvement of the lives of the historically disadvantaged and the majority of South Africans, it must be amended.”

The views that are opposed to the amendment of Section 25 were also highlighted at both Tsolo and Engcobo legs of the public hearings. Some of those who opposed the amendment based their opposition on reasons that included the fact that the amendments have a great potential of negatively affecting the confidence of investors towards South Africa, at a time when the country needs investors more than ever before.

They also mentioned the inability of the government to process the backlog of land claims that were made since the dawn of democracy, 25 years ago by legitimate claimants. Furthermore, they said that the people in rural areas have enough land which they do not use.

The Chairperson of the delegation, Advocate Bongani Bongo again highlighted the importance of public participation in the legislative process. He said: “We are empowered by the procedure of Parliament and the Constitution, it is the Parliament of the people that has mandated us with the task of obtaining public input on this very important legislation.”

In continuing with public hearings in the Eastern Cape Province, the delegation will be in King William’s Town tomorrow at 11:00.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER OF THE DELEGATION, ADV BONGANI BONGO.

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