Following efforts towards returning land to South Africans whose land was confiscated under racist laws in the apartheid era, “mobile land claims offices” housed in buses and four-wheel-drive trucks were launched. The initiative was a step towards contacting victims of racially motivated land dispossession and helping them claim back their rightful lands.
Also, another aim of the the initiative was to establish contacts with people in rural dwellings who could not make it to the 14 fixed-location offices, which are mostly in urban centres. The “mobile land claims offices” housed in vehicles contain electronic equipment to register claims on site.
Mobile Land Claims Offices Statistics
Though the mobile land offices have not frequented populated areas of northeastern Limpopo province and towns in desert regions of Northern Cape province, a land rights commission said the commission has registered more than 27,000 legal claims from South Africans.
Staff of the land right commission have been registering claims for South Africans who were dispossessed of land after June 19, 1913 – when the notorious “Natives Land Act” came into force
Meanwhile, the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights asserts that the commission has reached out to more than 100,000 households in most rural communities in six specially adapted vehicles since April 2015. It is pertinent to note that in 1996, 90 percent of all agricultural land was owned or leased by just 60,000 white commercial farmers, according to government figures.
The National Development Plan set a target of transferring 20 percent of agricultural lands to black South Africans by 2030. Between 1994 and 2014, the state handed 7.5 million hectares to black farmers, 46 percent of this target, according to official figures.
In South Africa, the Restitution of Land Rights Bill is aimed at restoring land to dispossessed owner during the apartheid era and was among the first laws passed by the country’s first democratic government in November 1994. Though many people failed to claim their land in the initial period from 1995 to 1998, President Jacob Zuma re-opened their right to make claims when he signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act on June 30, 2014.
Land remains a highly emotive issue in South Africa, where 300 years of colonial rule and white-minority government left the vast majority of farmland in the hands of a tiny, mainly white, minority.
One of the duties enshrined in the 1996 constitution demands that government ensures equitable land distribution and also proffer solution to the 1913 Act.
Speaking also, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo revealed that one of the main reasons why land claims was re-opened was because most families had no idea that they are qualified for the process. Gobodo also expressed confidence that the mobile offices would enable farmers to reclaim their land by the 2019 deadline.