Disteneng Land Claim: 15 years on still no resolve

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance is extremely concerned that the land claim lodged by Disteneng land beneficiaries has been dragged by the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs (RLLA) for over 15 years that to date no land has been allocated to these beneficiaries.

This ineptitude by RLLA contrasts sharply with the government’s stated committed to land reform. It shows convincingly that rather than it being the constitutional framework which slows down land reform, it is the department’s own fault that some of the land claimants are still not getting their land.

There are 128 claimants who stand to benefit from this land reform process.

These claimants’ first lodged their land claim in 1995 and it was approved by the Minister in 2001. This was a claim to the land which is now called Disteneng, outside of Polokwane and the approval was made before shacks were erected on the land claimed.

Because the government was slow in handing the land to the claimants, the current informal shacks were erected on the land that it became impossible for the land to be handed over.

An alternative land, extension 40 was then identified in 2005 and the Department of Land Affairs allocated over R23 million for the development of this land into a township.

This, extension 40 is a piece of land which belongs to the Polokwane Municipality and the DA is in possession of documents which shows that council resolutions were taken to donate this land to the land claimants.

All that was needed was for the Department of Land Affairs to finance its development into a township by building the necessary infrastructure using the R23 million allocated for this.

Up to now nothing has happened.

Instead, because it has taken the department a long time since 2005 when the R23 million was allocated for the development of this township, the costs have gone up and are now estimated to be around R70 million.

Over the years, 17 claimants have passed away before they could see the benefits of their land claim.

The DA fully supports a constitutionally compliant land reform process. We are of the view that it is one of the fundamental ways of correcting past injustices. If used correctly it is an effective means of correcting the skewed land ownership patterns in South Africa.

The issue of the Disteneng land claimants shows the blame lies squarely at the feet of the Department.

The DA will be seeking an urgent meeting with the regional Land Claims Commissioner Mr. Maphoto to explain what happened to the R23 million which was allocated in 2005 to develop extension 20 into a township. Furthermore he must explain why is it taking a long time to process this land claim even though the earmarked land was donated by the Municipality.