This morning, the Land Claims Court approved the implementation plan prepared by the SPECIAL MASTER FOR LABOUR TENANTS for the resolution of outstanding labour tenants land claims. In his judgment Judge Meer said: “I am happy to approve the plan so that the work can begin.”
The Land Claims Court ordered in 2016 that the Special Master collaborate with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (Department) to develop and submit to court by 31 March 2020 an Implementation Plan setting out:
- “The total number of claims lodged to date, and the number which have not yet been processed and finalised;
- An assessment of the skill pool and other infrastructure required for processing labour tenant claims, and to what extent such skill pool and infrastructure is available within the Department;
- Targets, on a year to year basis, for the resolution of pending labour tenant claims, either by agreement or by referring the claim to the Court;
- A determination of the budget necessary during each financial year for carrying out the Implementation, including both the Department’s operating costs for processing claims and the amounts required to fund awards made pursuant to applications in terms of section 16 of the Act;
- Plans for co-ordination with the Court to ensure the rapid adjudication or arbitration of unresolved claims referred to the Court in terms of section 18 (7) read with section 19 to 25 of the Act; and
- Any other matters which the special master may consider relevant.”
Labour Tenants have been waiting far too long to have their claims to land settled, and now there is finally a plan for their rights to be realised. This comes after a protracted court battle that started in 2013 when the late Bhekindlela Mwelase and three other labour tenant claimants, who live on the Hilton College Estate, in the Natal Midlands, approached AFRA to provide support in getting their claim to land ownership settled. As similar labour tenant claimants continued to report their matters to AFRA, the decision was taken to bring a Class Action lawsuit to ensure that all labour tenant claimants in South Africa would be resolved. AFRA, working with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), therefore went to the Land Claims Court in 2013 to seek systemic relief for the many years of disregard and neglect of labour tenants’ claims by the Department.
AFRA and labour tenants are happy that the Special Master and the Department were able to work collaboratively in producing the labour tenant implementation plan as the court ordered, and that the Department has made available resources, including a budget for the acquisition of land, for labour tenant applications. AFRA will continue to monitor the effective implementation of the plan, and ensure that the Constitutional rights of labour tenants are realised.
Issued by the Association For Rural Advancement (AFRA).
For more information, please contact
AFRA Programmes Manager: Siyabonga Sithole – 064 957 7767
AFRA Communications: Nokuthula Mthimunye – 076 754 7110