Labour tenants, Land News

Under fire Minister Gugile Nkwinti continues to waste money in court instead of settling claims

Minister Gugile Nkwinti of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform continues to drag his heels following the Mwelase (labour tenants class action) judgement by launching an appeal.

The 8th December 2016 saw a massive victory for labour tenants, particularly those that lodged land acquisition claims under the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act. This date marks the Land Claims Court landmark ruling that a Special Master must be appointed to assist the Department to process the longstanding claims of labour tenants who lodged their claims by 31 March 2001.

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The class action, which spanned over three years, was initially brought on behalf four labour tenants and land rights NGO the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) because the Department was failing to process claims and to meet deadlines set by the court, prompting the claimants to launch the application to appoint a Special Master.

January 2017 saw the expected but rather questionable application for leave to appeal lodged by Minister Nkwinti in yet another desperate attempt to block the appointment of a Special Master.

Nkwinti has been besieged this week by questions regarding his involvement in the purchasing of Bekendvlei Farm in Limpopo. According to media reports, a draft forensic audit reporting stated that “Nkwinti is guilty of abusing his position as Minister to influence the acquisition of Bekendvlei…which resulted in irregular expenditure amounting to R97,600,000” and that “Nkwinti should be charged with possible corruption”.

After so many years of fighting in court, labour tenants are still to hear a valid motivation from the Minister that explains his Department’s opposition to a Special Master.

The reason for the failure to settle labour tenant claims surely cannot be the lack of resources within the Department, considering the amount of money being spent by the Department on senior counsel in this case.

The court has found, after extensive arguments that the best solution to the future of the Department to settle labour tenant claim will be the appointment of a Special Master.

Wasteful expenditure on legal counsel shows the Minister’s insensitivity to the plight of these claimants, money that could be spent settling claims rather than protecting the Minister.

You are invited to hear the appeal at the Land Claims Court in Randburg on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st February 2017. You can hear our representatives from the Legal Resources Centre who will argue that these attempts at further delays should be dismissed and labour tenant’s claims should be processed urgently.

Issued by the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

For more information, please contact Nokuthula Mthimunye (Communications Advocate: AFRA) nokuthula@afra.co.za (076 754 7110).

Media coverage of the Judgment:

eNCAGovernment’s refusal to give labour tenants ownership ‘unconstitutional’

Times Live: Court orders a Special Master to ensure Land Affairs complete labour tenant claims

News24: Court orders appointment of Special Master to fast-track labour tenant land claims  

Sowetan LiveCourt orders a Special Master to ensure land affairs complete labour tenants’ claims

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