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 Makhanda, 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 In 2011, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) rescinded the order, and ordered that the Land Claims Court reconsider the merits of all the claims, over all the land, and determine which community has a valid claim.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.