A Hope Deferred

By Nokuthula Mthimunye

When Cabangile Sokhela married in 1992 she had high hopes for the family she would raise in the years to come. As is customary, she moved in with her husband’s family who lived on Faith Farm in Impendle, where they had been labour tenants
for many years.

As an activist for land rights she worked closely with AFRA to secure the dreams she had for her family and children. Like so many others, she and her family lodged their labour tenant land acquisition claim in 1996. She still recalls the dedication and commitment of her AFRA comrades like Mdu Shabane, currently Director General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (the Department), who she remembers as soldier in the struggle for the rights of labour tenants.

Mama Sokhela the dedication and commitment of her comrades like Mdu Shabane, currently the Director General of the DRDLR, who she remembers as a soldier in the fight for the rights of labour tenants. Photo: Tom Draper

Her struggle has been a long one. Now, 20 years after having lodged their claims,she says ‘ingane yami yayincane kakhulu ngesikhathi sifaka isicelo sokubuyiselwa umhlaba, manje isiganiwe, isiqale nomndeniwayo, kodwa umhlaba awukabuyi kuthina namanje” (My son was very young when we lodged our claim, he is now married and has a family of his own – but still the land has not been given back to us).

While the state has purchased the land on which Mama Sokhela resides, little development has taken place. The labour tenant families living on Faith Farm have not received title deeds to their land and they remain completely in the dark as to if
any development is planned or to whom the rest of the farm has been leased and for what purpose.

The families continue to graze cattle as they did in the past, but have not received any services from the local municipality. She says that when they approach the Municipality they are told that since they are not the owners of the land, no services can be provided to them.

To complicate matters further, some of the land in the area is also subject to competing restitution claims. All of these factors combine to keep Mama Sokhela and her family in a state of insecurity and uncertainty. Securing rights and achieving sustainable and productive development is difficult for labour tenants and their families without the state playing an active role in supporting them.

It is on behalf of Mama Sokhela and all other labour tenants across South Africa that AFRA has been in Court compeling the Department to fully realise the constitutional rights of labour tenants, as detailed in our Programme Report.

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