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Press Release: Prud­hoe Com­mu­nity finally have their day in court

 

 

For Imme­di­ate Release: 06 Novem­ber 2017

 

After wait­ing for almost 20 years to have their land claim adju­di­cated, the Prud­hoe Com­mu­nity, rep­re­sented by the Legal Resources Cen­tre in Gra­ham­stown, now await judg­ment by the Land Claims Court to deter­mine whether the land from which they were force­fully removed dur­ing the 1980s will be restored to them.

 

The Prud­hoe Com­mu­nity lodged their claim in Decem­ber 1998 in terms of the Resti­tu­tion of Land Rights Act and are claim­ing restora­tion of 26 farms between the Fish and Mpekweni rivers in the Ped­die area. 

 

In 1987, they were forcibly removed from the 26 farms by the Ciskei gov­ern­ment in a trau­matic and inhu­mane fash­ion. The forced removals were affected by the for­mer home­land gov­ern­ment, osten­si­bly to make way for large-scale agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment. They were moved to the Prud­hoe farm where they were dumped on a vacant piece of land. The com­mu­nity received no com­pen­sa­tion from the for­mer Ciskei gov­ern­ment for the land they had lost and were not pro­vided with any assis­tance to rebuild their lives at Prud­hoe farm. The land they were removed from remains largely unused, save for graz­ing.

 

The claim of the Prud­hoe Com­mu­nity is con­tested by the amaZ­izi Com­mu­nity who are claim­ing 85 farms, which include the 26 farms claimed by the Prud­hoe Com­mu­nity.

 

The claimed land includes The Fish River Sun. The Fish River Sun was awarded to the amaZ­izi Com­mu­nity in 2010 with­out any con­sid­er­a­tion of the Prud­hoe Community’s com­pet­ing claim. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) rescinded the order, and ordered that the Land Claims Court recon­sider the mer­its of all the claims, over all the land, and deter­mine which com­mu­nity has a valid claim.

 

Should the Prud­hoe Community’s claim be suc­cess­ful, the land will be restored to them and they will be allowed to return to the farms from which they were removed. This will sig­nif­i­cantly improve the socio-economic cir­cum­stances of the com­mu­nity, who were severely impov­er­ished by the forced removals in the 1980s.

Judg­ment is expected in the first quar­ter of 2018.

 

The Fish River Sun Hotel has given notice that it intends to close at the end of Novem­ber 2017. In what appears to be an attempt to keep the hotel open, nego­ti­a­tions between the Min­is­ter of Rural Devel­op­ment and the Fish River Sun are ongo­ing, pend­ing the out­come in the Land Claims Court. 

 

The Land Claims Court will decide who enjoys a claim to the land the hotel is on.  It will also decide if it is fea­si­ble to restore the land, other than the hotel. A later hear­ing will decide whether restora­tion of the land on which the hotel is built is fea­si­ble, if that issue can­not be resolved between the par­ties.


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