Rural Development and Land Reform on handover of land to Ebenhaeser community

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed about five thousand (5000) members of the Ebenhaeser community during the land restitution handover to the first ever descendants of Griqua community in Vredendal, West Coast District in the Western Cape on Saturday, 23 March 2019.

Ululations and whistling brought a jovial atmosphere throughout the president’s address. He shared with the community the value of keeping and working the land for the current and future generations; particularly when he touched on the post-settlement support which the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) provides in the form of a variety of tractors made available for utilisation by farmers in the area.

Flanked by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of Rural Development and Land Reform, Minister Thulas Nxesi of Public Works, Minister Senzeni Zokwana of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as the Western Cape Premier, Ms Helen Zille, President Ramaphosa said the handover was a “triumph of cooperative governance because the settlement of these claims would not have been possible without the close collaboration of the local, provincial and national government.”

It is a priority of this government to ensure that we provide the necessary support to communities who have had their land returned for it to be utilized productively and effectively, and to support our broader goals of agricultural growth and economic transformation. I am therefore particularly pleased that the Ebenhaeser community wants to use the land for productive purposes, said the President.

“People who had spent their lives on these farms were uprooted, evicted and shunted off to faraway and desolate settlements away from their designated population group. The slow pace of reform has caused impatience among our people, and justifiably so. Our accelerated land reform programme is an imperative if we are to correct the wrong of the past.

An inter-ministerial committee has been established to oversee the accelerated land reform process, with a presidential advisory panel on hand to assist the committee in its work,” said Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa said the Community Property Associations (CPAs) would be closely monitored to ensure that all proceeds accruing from the commercial farming were not abused and were used for the upliftment of local residents.

“We must not hear that the CPA is going to exclude the views of the people. Let the community know what the money is going to do. I ask that the CPAs must work in a transparent manner. Many CPAs have collapsed because the chairpersons and the secretaries are doing their own things. We must be able to account for every cent. On the same breath, communities must also play a supportive role and understand that farming does not bring overnight success, highlighted Ramaphosa.

The President thanked Minister Nkoana-Mashabane for the job well done of reviving the hope for the community by finalising and settling their land claim and giving them a new lease on life.

The handover entails the awarding of title deeds and agricultural machinery to revive agricultural activities within the communities of Beeswater. The implements are part of the stimulus package aimed at reviving the economy which the president announced in early 2018 in his State of the Nation Address.

The Department bought the remainder Farm 178 Vanrhynsdorp Farm Beeswater, measuring 3990 hectares commercial farmland for R2, 992,553.70, to the benefit of 51 households, direct descendants of the Griqua Community that established themselves on the Farm since 1926.

The community entered into a lease agreement with the then landowner from 1938-1940 but due to racial laws and practices, did not have the necessary permit to purchase the land. The community of Beeswater was forcibly removed from an undivided portion of the remainder Farm Vanrhysdorp, situated on the Western side of the Zoutrivier in 1960. The community was eventually relocated to the Coloured Area of Vredendal in 1981.

The Beeswater CPA has indicated their desire to resuscitate livestock and/or game farming, possible agricultural activities as the first claim settled in the Western Cape to direct descendants of the indigenous Khoi community a cultural village and ultimately to resettle their community to the land that is rich in cultural history.

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Source: Government of South Africa