Statement: The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) welcomes the Land Claims Court Order
Published by Legal Resources Centre 3 September 2019
For Immediate Release: 21 August 2019
On Tuesday, 03 September 2019, the settlement agreement between four labour tenants in the Mwelase land claim against the Hiltonian Society was made an order of the Land Claims Court sitting in Durban High Court.
In terms of the agreement the state “agreed to make an offer of alternative land … that shall be transferred to the claimants to be held communally by them through a legal entity of their choice.” The alternative land shall be “located within approximately 40 km from Hilton and sufficiently close to schools [and] it shall be sufficiently large, and of an adequate quality, to permit cropping, grazing and the continuation of a rural lifestyle.”
Once the alternative land is identified the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development “shall procure the assistance of the three spheres of government to facilitate the provision of basic services, infrastructure and housing for the Claimants.”
In terms of the settlement agreement, the Hiltonian Society undertakes to assist the claimants to erect houses, provide transport from the alternative land to Hilton and assist the families to transport their cattle and goods to the alternative land. The families will only be required to move to the alternative land once the houses have been built there and there is provision of water, electricity and sanitation on the alternative land.
LRC attorney Thabiso Mbhense says that “The Legal Resources Centre is pleased with the order. It has taken many years for us to reach this point and justice is now within reach.”
The dignity of the four labour tenant claimants has now been restored. Although all four initial claimants are deceased, their families will now be able to own their own piece of land which will be passed on to future generations as well. They will be able to occupy, graze cattle and grow crops on their own land without any hindrances.
Their occupation of the land cannot be disturbed, they will not be forced to reduce the number of their livestock and they will now have the power to determine how best they wish to utilise the land.