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Nonini Christinah Moloto, commonly known as Tina, is a 51 years adult female who was born on the 14th May 1966 at a farm called Doornpoort situated in the Modimolle area of Limpopo Province. She is the first born child of the late Mr and Mrs Alfred and Johanna Masekane Modimolle. She got married to Mr Kate Lekalakala and they were blessed with three children, i.e., two boys and a girl. In 1981, Tina moved to the farm Rhenosterfontein and stayed with her Grandmother.
She also started work on the farm where she served as a domestic worker. She was only 15 years of age when she assumed the domestic worker role which was previous occupied by her grandmother. Her monthly wages were R 15-00. Tina stayed in a three roomed mud house on the farm until she moved into the main farmhouse to assume care taking role and to nurse to the ailing Mrs Korsman in the year 2010. It was easy for her to move in with the land lady as Tina was at this stage a divorcee.
Then she moved in with her last born child into the farmhouse. Mrs Korsman died 3 years later, i.e., on the 26th June 2013. Tina remained living in the farm house until she was served with an eviction notice by the Executor of Mrs Korsman’s estate in August 2013. She had all along enjoyed the following rights on the farm: • Residential rights, in her three roomed mud house which she occupied before moving into the farmhouse. • Grazing rights for her 6 cattle. • Visitation rights • Burial rights as her grandparents and two children. Tina came to Nkuzi, Modimolle office, to seek advice on the matter. The project officers took her account of the story and contacted the Executor of Estate to establish his side of the story. It was then realised that the Executor did not only service Tina with the intention to evict, he also gave her offer to the tune of R80 000.00 towards her severance package.
We also established that there was a misunderstanding between the Executor and Tina based on the assumption by our client that she is the sole beneficiary to the Korsman Estate given that the deceased had no child. She was further accused of degrading through debusing and selling firewood harvested on the farm, hosted parties in the farmhouse without the permission of the Executor We facilitated discussions between the two parties from March 2014 after having held separate meetings with each party to inform them about their rights and responsibilities as enshrined in ESTA. We also negotiated with Mr Joze Toich, the Executor of the Estate to consider the settlement offer given that Tina has cattle and goods to transport to the alternative accommodation. We successfully secured a R100 000.00 settlement or relocation fee payable in the agreed account once off. We also negotiated for the Executor to respect Tina’s rights to visit the graves of her relatives who were buried on the farm.
The graves were identified and fenced to ensure that they are protected against stray animals and destruction should there be development on the farm. The settlement was drawn and signed by both parties, settlement amount was transferred into an agreed account on Monday the 27th October and this facilitated her relocation on the 1st November 2014. We have initiated processes to strength the offer and make it an order of court and the Executor is willing to cover the costs. Lessons Learned *Land owners can destroy evidence which can jeopardise occupiers’ rights and/or claims on the farm. *Occupiers have to be informed about their rights and responsibilities. *Our clients can at times blow things out of proportion. Therefore, we need to strive to get the other side’s story for us to intervene or advise appropriately. *There are still cooperative land owners.
COMPONENT 2: ACQUISITION OF LAND FOR FOOD SECURITY/REDISTRIBUTION PROGARMME MAROBALA O ITSOŠE COMMUNAL PROPERTY ASSOCIATION: BEST PRACTICE FOR COMMUNITY LAND GOVERNANCE IN LIMPOPO PROVINCE Marobala-O-Itsoše Communal Property Association was established in 2003 following the lodgement of a land claim on five(5) farms, namely;Appelfontein, Boomzien, Combro, Inderhiken, and Potsdam in the Mogwadi town, Capricorn District Municipality of Limpopo Province. The claim was lodged two years before the cut-off date of 31st December 1998 by Molatelo Frans Mathopa on behalf of Marobala-O-Itsoše community on the 2nd July 1996. The community was dispossessed of its land rights between 1941 and 1965 when its members who refused to be reduced to labour tenants on the land they occupied, were issued with “trek passes”. These passes were the old apartheid style documents to formalise forced removals. The community members were forced to scatter and relocated in various areas such as Moletjie, Mohodi, Bochum, Botlokwa and some went as far as Mpumalanga Province.
At the time of lodgement of a land claim, the community did not have a formal structure but did elect a committee chaired by Molatelo Frans Mathopa thereafter. The election of the committee happened during the claim verification processes and gathering of data to support the claim. The same committee was converted into a Communal Property Association (CPA) through unanimous decision of the members in a general meeting. The Marobala-O-Itsoše CPA was established as a legal entity to own and administer land after settlement of the claim by the Regional Land Claims Commission.
Eventually on the 31st of January 2004, Marobala-O-Itsoše Community witnessed the handover of 7147.7195 hectares of land in their favour This marked the beginning of community integration, involvement and participation in their development initiatives of job creation, livelihood security and communal land governance. It has been a norm for the community to elect amongst its members people who must serve as its leaders from the establishment of a land claims committee to the dawn of the CPA. The general membership of the community has been actively involved in deciding who should lead the CPA. It must also be noted that the members also participated in the drafting of the Marobala-O-Itsoše CPA Constitution.
The involvement of the members in elections of the committee empowers the community to own the processes and outcome of the elections. Therefore, no one can divorce him/herself from the established committee, rather support it. Elections of new committee are held every five years, but in between there is room to fill vacancies as and when a need arises. Participatory elections were held in 2004 and 2009. The next election will be held by end of November 2014 as required by the constitution. Members are afforded equal opportunity to elect or be elected. This is further backed by the constitutional clause that “each member has a right to elect or be elected to serve in the committee”. There is also the issue of households being treated equally, i.e., each household must mandate one person to vote on its behalf. This is anchored on the principle of “one household one vote” Thus the issue of the small households or clans being dominated or suppressed by the bigger ones does not apply in Marobala-O-Itsoše Community.
Democracy and fairness are the cornerstones of the Marobala-O-Itsoše CPA and are upheld at all times. Although there is no register yet for the household representatives, the practice sets a standard for other CPAs to copy and implement in their own instances. Like any other community initiative, there have been challenges of including people who are not legible to benefit from the land claims. This was expressed in the form of the former leadership, the then chairperson in particular, included relatives and friends who have no connection with the households which were forcefully dispossessed of land rights, while side-lining and rejecting rightful claimants an opportunity to participate and benefit from the land claim.
The other committee members and general membership noticed the deliberate commission of error and on advising the chairperson about the need to correct the matter; he reacted by taking the matter to court. The court found the chairperson to have acted wrongfully and ordered for the verification of beneficiaries and/or claimants. The committee is verifying beneficiaries in consultation with the entire membership with elderly members, especially those who witnessed the removal as resource persons.
The verification is done in a transparent manner, in a general meeting whereby members are able to confirm each other as rightful claimants and those who are not are therefore rejected by the entire community. The membership involvement is also entrenched in land use and allocation for members. Decisions for land use are taken at meetings and the role of the executive committee is to implement and report back to the general members. At all allocations the community of beneficiaries is made privy to all decisions taken and records are kept with the committee. The CPA constitution also prescribes for annual general meetings.
The Marobala committee abides by the constitution as annual meetings are held and members are given reports on general operations and financial matters of the CPA. The reports thereof are further submitted to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform as a custodian of CPAs in South Africa. The story of Marobala brings hope for other CPAs and once they follow their example, there would be significant improvement in compliance by the land governance structures which mainly comprise land reform beneficiaries.
COMPONENT 3: REASSIGNMENT OF LAND FOR DEVELOPMENT /RESTITUTION PROGRAMME MABOHLAJANA COMMUNITY DEMONSTRATES FRUSTRATION THROUGH STRATEGIC LAND OCCUPATION IN MOLEMOLE, LIMPOPO PROVINCE: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH WITH BUREAUCRATIC EXCUSES! Mabohlajana community lodged a land claim on a portion of Duitchland 169LS before the cut off date of 31 December 1998. The individuals who lost land rights lodged their individual claims with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR). The CRLR facilitated the process of merging individual claims into Mabohlajana community claim during validation process.
A committee made of was established thereafter and elected Mr Pitsi William Mokgetle as their chairperson. In 2001 the community claim was gazetted after the RLCC was convinced that it is a prima facie claim. This gazette paved a way for the drafting of the section 42d submission which would eventually enable the Minister to sign a memorandum to restore land into claimants. For reasons known to RLCC (Regional Land Claims Commission) in Limpopo, the submission did not reach the Minister’s office. To date no action/ efforts has been made to ensure that almost settled claim is finalised.
In 2003 Molemole Municipality initiated development on the land under claim in contravention of section (7) (a) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act which illustrate that, “once a notice has been published in respect of any land no person may sell, exchange, donate, lease, subdivide, rezone or develop the land in question without having given the regional land claims commissioner one month’s written notice of his or her intention to do so’’. Through demarcation of sites; the community leaders alerted RLCC about the development but no action plan has been taken to stop the municipality to date.
The community mobilized resources and solicited services of a private Attorney to challenge the development process by Molemole Municipality. The matter ended up at the Land Claims Court which ruled as follows; • The RLCC was ordered to facilitate settlement of the Mabohlajana claim by 21 January 2014, failure to settle the claim RLCC was instructed to report to the Land Claims Court by the 28th February 2014 reasons they could not settle the claim as per court order. • The court further ruled that should RLCC fail to comply with the court order, they shall be liable for legal costs of the community.
Days and months went by without RLCC acting on the court order. Then in March 2014 community decided to demonstrate its frustration through strategic occupation of the land in question. Strategic occupations were intensified in June and July 2014. This was met with fury from the Molemole Municipality. The Municipality attempted to interdict the community members and served with notice only 4 days before appearance date and this worked in favour of the community as the high court ordered the Municipality to follow appropriate procedures. Instead of serving appropriate notice, the Municipality approached the Northern Gauteng High Court to acquire an interdict. Again, the judge threw the matter out of court for not being procedural in July 2014.
On realization that the strategic occupation and court cases will expose on lack of will and commitment to process the land claim, RLCC approached claimants individually to sign settlement offers for monetary compensation. This was done in contradiction of the merger of the claims and without informing the elected committee. This is a clear sign that government has no intention to help the landless despite policies and legislation being passed. The interest of government, bureaucrats in particular, is to confuse land claimants and change goal posts as observed in this case. If communities don’t stand up and challenge and/expose these abnormalities, transformative land agrarian reform in South Africa will remain a myth.