Land History: Cope’s Lekota Says White Land Owners Didn’t Steal The Land


COPE Leader Lekota Discusses Land Issue: Over two decades after the end of the apartheid regime, most of South Africa’s lands remain in white hands.

Most South Africans, especially black people, till date, believe that white settlers truly ‘stole’ the land from them – leading to a continuous call for land grab.

The call for land grab from white hands has been spearheaded by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party. Its leader Julius Malema upholds that black people were forced to give out their land to white people.

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But the leader of the Congress of the People (Cope) Mosiuoa Lekota, this morning, rubbished EFF’s claims that white people stole the land from black people.

According to Lekota who spoke to Talk Radio 702, the claim that white people stole the land is not correct. Rather, he asserted that all white people who own land in the country bought it after SA’s title deeds were introduced.

The opposition leader said land ownership became a concept after white colonists who arrived in the Cape and Natal introduced title deeds, making it possible for anyone – both white and black – to acquire land today.

“This word ‘stolen’ is a very unfortunate word. Look at the Cape for instance how that happened, [there were negotiations] between the Khoi and the Dutch initially and later on, of course, the English took over but there was a title introduced there, until that time there was no title (deed).

“We must not leave our people with a wrong impression that every white person you see walking the streets is owning a land. The families that own the land are the families that bought them. And they are obliged to give them back to the government if a title deed is produced that ‘this is my land,” Lekota said.

Digging deep, COPE leader Lekota alleged that before the introduction of the title deeds, everyone had access to the land and the black majority who now claim the land as theirs were not even the original occupiers, having migrated from the “great lakes” to the north.

He explained further: “We, the so-called Bantu-speaking South Africans, came from the North, from the Great Lakes, we overran territory here which was occupied by the Khoi and the San. There was no title, we just occupied that land.

We were not even the original residents here. The people we call Baroa, the People of the South – Ba boroa, the People of the South, it’s the Khoi, the people we found here,” he said.

Asked why title deeds are a pre-condition for land ownership, COPE leader Lekota said that they make it easier to identify the true owners of the certain land.

“If you took any land in this country, take any land from the white people, which black families will you give that land to? And which will not get? Because you won’t be able to give each and every one of the families. How will you identify that the Lekotas must get this land because they are black? Only because they are black? You must have criteria.

“That is why our people adopted title and surely negotiations were done even in the case of the Khoi, even in the case of Basotho, in the case of Batswana, everywhere, our people accepted and we began to develop South Africa on the basis that title has now arrived, if you can acquire resources you can buy this land and everybody was treated the same. So even when the land was taken under the 1913 Land Act, nobody could just say ‘I’m white I must get a piece of land’, they had to buy it,” Cope leader Lekota said.

Recently, President Jacob Zuma and the ANC were forced to act on the land issue after being pressurized by members of the EFF.

Last month, during a meeting with ANC NEC, the president called for expropriation of land without compensation.

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However, the ANC’s official policy on land reform is aligned with the Constitution, which currently allows for the state to expropriate land from anyone, providing “just and equitable” compensation.

While the ANC wants to gently handle the land issue, the EFF has severally found itself on the wrong side of the law with physical land occupations, with its leader appearing in court more than twice over land grab.