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National & Provincial
Feb 24 2013 10:29PM
 
Land claims reopened
PUTTING IN WORK: Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti, middle, wants to speed up the land restitution process and get it finalised either this year or in 2014 . Picture: Kopano Tlape
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Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

The government wants to finalise thousands of outstanding land claims this year or in 2014.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said that his department wanted to get this process out of the way as soon as possible.

Nkwinti’s spokesperson Mtobeli Mxothwa said on Sunday there were less than 5000 restitution claims that were still outstanding and the department wanted to settle these within two years.

He said when the restitution process began in 1995 there were 80000 claims that were lodged with the department.

The department said it was intent on finalising the remaining claims.

Mxothwa said they would rope in trainees from the National Rural Youth Service Corps to help expedite the process.

He said there were 11740 corps trainees who would help the department in processing the claims. Nkwinti told journalists in Parliament on Friday that the process of lodging new claims would be reopened once necessary amendments to the law had been made.

He said as President Jacob Zuma had indicated in his state of the nation address, the process would be reopened and would not be business as usual as the restitution process was being reopened.

Nkwinti said: “As the department, we are fully aware of the mammoth task in front of us, particularly within the context of the reopening of the land claims process and we want to assure South Africans that we are equal to the challenge.

“In working together we must do more to improve the quality of life of our people.

“Many claimants have passed on, waiting for the day their claims would come through, so we must pull all our collective skills, experiences and efforts together to succeed,” said Nkwinti.

The department would like to reopen the process to allow those who missed the first deadline some few years ago to get on board.

The reopening of the claims coincides with the centenary of the 1913 Native Land Act. Nkwinti said that government had finalised the audit of state and private land.

There were still issues about the racial identity of those who owned private land.

He said it was not clear how many people in each race group owned land.

Mxothwa said they would work with Statistics South Africa to determine how much land belonged to different race groups.

siyabongam@thenewage.co.za

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