Rural Development and Land Reform on land claim

The Bakwena Ba Mare a Phogole land claim in the South of Jhb, Ekurhuleni and Sedibeng

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights received a land claim by Mr. Thabo Lucky Mogagabe in respect of properties on vast areas of land in the south of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and sections of the Vaal in Sedibeng.

The land claim was lodged in the prescribed manner as per the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 (Restitution Act) which entitles a person or community dispossessed of a right in land after 19 June 1913 as a result of past discriminatory laws and practices, to restoration of that right or equitable redress.

The land claim was lodged on behalf of the Bakwena Ba Mare a Phogole community who alleged they were dispossessed of land rights on the affected properties. The Bakwena Tribe lodged their land claim on 19 June 1995 which was within the prescribed lodgement phase which ended 31 December 1998.

Upon preliminary investigations, the claim was found to be frivolous and vexatious and was dismissed by the Commission in terms of section 11(1)c of the Restitution Act. The dismissal was challenged by the Bakwena Tribe and made a court application under case number 98/2010 at the Land Claims Court (LCC).

The Commission did not oppose the application and consented to 1% arguable to the validity of the claim and to gazetting within 60 days. However, the Commission encountered challenges in complying with the set timeframe as the properties to be gazetted were not clearly defined and the request for an in loco inspection was turned down by the community.

The above resulted in the Bakwena Tribe applying for an order compelling the Commission to comply with the previous court order.

The matter was heard in the LCC on the 22nd of August 2016 and the 19th of October 2016 where the judgement ordered for the gazetting of the land claim was issued to the Commission.

In compliance with the court order, the Commission gazetted the land claim in publish notice number 1377 in the Government Gazette No. 40402 on the 4th of November 2016 with a schedule of all the affected properties.

A claim for restitution is directed to the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, which is required, among other things, to investigate the merits of the land claims and make determination as to whether a claim is not precluded by the requirements for restitution.

Parties who have an interest in the properties affected by the land claim were invited to submit, within 60 days from the date of publication of the above notice, any representations and/ or information which can assist the office of Regional Land Claims Commissioner in approving compliance or non-compliance of the land claim.

The due date for submission of representation was on the 4th of January 2017.

However, the Commission was inundated with requests from affected parties for time extensions with regard to submissions of representations citing that December is a short month due to early office closures and festive season holidays, the vastness of the land claim and the numerous properties affected.

The Regional Land Claims Commissioner has reviewed the requests and have granted a further 90 day extension for receipt of representations on this matter.

The 90 days comes into effect on the date of publishing of the Government Gazette.

In the published notice, the Regional Land Claims Commissioner, Mr. Lebjane Maphutha states that, "the Commission is required to avoid major social disruptions whilst settling land claims, and therefore restoration of the already developed residential, recreational, commercial, and other properties used in the public interest, therefore successful claims over such areas are settled by provision of alternative state-owned land or financial compensation."

Source: Government of South Africa