Released - 02 September 2019
Our fifteenth financial year end (30 September) will soon be upon us and planning for the Annual General Meeting has commenced. Likely dates, at this stage, are either the 5th or 6th of November. We shall advise further, as soon as a venue has been arranged.
1. Status of the exercise to get a court hearing and ‘Countdown’.
You may recall, from the last newsflash (number 44), that The State Attorney and Department of Rural Development and Land Reform had certain tasks, including the following, to complete by 28 June 2019 :-
- Prepare a list of all properties under claim and indicate which of those properties it regards as not being feasible to restore.
- Hold a meeting with Telkom and National Space Agency to discuss the feasibility of restoring the properties owned by them.
- Produce an amended notice of claim and publish a list of any properties not previously published.
Newsflash 44 also stated “history indicates that the State Attorney and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform are not reliable and are not capable of performing the tasks they have to perform. Our legal team are constantly reminding them of their responsibilities but, at this stage because of the costs involved, are avoiding litigation”.
True to form, the State Attorney and Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, advised that they needed additional time to complete the work and requested an extension until 31 July. As at time of writing (27 August) the work is still outstanding.
The committee have discussed the matter and have decided that, as soon as the money is received in from the last cost order, further action will be taken against the State Attorney. We fear that further delays will have an impact upon the court date – which currently is still scheduled for the last two weeks of March 2020.
The “Crowdfunding” campaign, with “Backabuddy”, has now raised R16829 and we should like to thank all the donors for their generosity and for their good wishes and kind words.
Unfortunately it appears that, so far, only 15 members (out of 250) have shared the links to the campaign. This represents a, very low, 6% penetration rate. If you ‘do-the-sums’ you can see that if all members had shared the links the amount raised could, already, be over R280 thousand. Come on people – share the links (https://www.backabuddy.co.za/26778-land-claim and https://www.facebook.com/26778LCAG/ ) with your relatives and friends – sharing the links costs nothing and it may bring-in some, at least, of the funds we need.
3. Alternative and additional funding.
A couple of very interesting proposals have been submitted by members. These are being actively explored further, with a view to an ‘event’ possibly early in 2020. Watch this space!
June and July receipts, from outstanding subscription debtors, amounted to R96 thousand. “Good”, but unfortunately, “not great” – the budget indicates receipts should have been at least R106 thousand if there is to be any chance of raising the amount that is required for the trial.
As at the end of July balances in the bank and money market accounts amounted to R926 thousand. At the current rate it is estimated that the financial ‘hole’ (current balances plus budgeted subscription income less budgeted legal and other costs) that still needs to be filled is around R650 thousand.
(Note: This ‘hole’ does not include an estimate of R200 thousand, which will be incurred after the court case, for preparing the cost orders.)
A reminder – much of the administration (eg financial ‘stuff’ and work on member’s records) is done by volunteers and part-timers. This has two implications:-
1) It is low cost and mostly free (great!);
2) It is done when it is convenient and/or cost effective – which means it is sometimes SLOW (not so great!). Thus, it is entirely possible, that payments made by members in the two weeks before statements are sent out, might not be reflected on the statement.
So, please, when you make a payment on your account, give us 1 or 2 weeks or so to process it – before you start complaining. (Pleasant enquiries are, however, always appreciated.)
5. A recent, very similar case. (Case 03/2014. Judge Bertelsmann.)
The Qwabe-Waterfall Community case, which was decided in December 2018 in favour of the landowners, appears very similar to ours. (Similar delays, similar promises never fulfilled, similar expansion in the number of properties being claimed, similar problems in submitting expert witness reports, similar failures by the claimants at the pre-trial conferences, similar problems in presenting any real evidence of dispossession.)
Some of the Judge’s comments, as follows, are damming of the Claimants, the State Attorney and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform:-
- “This matter has been afflicted by most, if not all, the ills that have befallen the restoration of land processes created by the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994.”
- “---- and has degenerated into long, costly, cumbersome and divisive legal processes and proceedings that are more often than not driven by political or other selfish motives and end in frustration and disappointment.”
- “This case is an example of the worst malpractices that have beset and endlessly delayed what was supposed to be a restorative process ameliorating the damage caused by ----”
Clearly Judge Bertelsmann is also very aware of the impact that a land claim has upon the landowners – as the following observation in the judgement indicates:-
“It goes without saying that the mere publication of the notice in the Government Gazette had the well-known detrimental effect that such publication has on any property affected thereby. The court is entitled to take judicial notice of the fact that a property subject to a restoration claim suffers an immediate diminution in its market value and is very difficult to dispose of or to encumber. The Claimants and the First (Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs) and Second (Regional Land Claims Commissioner) Defendants were indubitably also aware thereof.”
One of the advocates involved was Mr H Havenga SC, who is of course also part of our legal team. A punitive cost order was issued against the Minister of Rural Development and Land Affairs and the Regional Land Claims Commissioner, who were ordered to pay costs on the “attorney and client” scale.
The full judgement, overwhelmingly in favour of the landowners, is unfortunately a PDF of 1,84 MB and somewhat heavy-going in places.
6. Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC)
In the week ending 24th August there were two landmark Constitutional Court judgements that placed the blame, for failed land reform, squarely on the shoulders of the Government and not on the Constitution.
Sources suggest that the Government will have a hard job to get EWC legislation approved by the Constitutional Court – in the event that any legislation is challenged at that level. We expect to read much knowledgeable commentary, in the press, in the near future.
The following EWC articles are worth reading:-
“Constitutional amendment process for expropriation without compensation is revived.” By Marianne Merten and published in Daily Maverick.26 July 2019
“Illegal tinkering with the Constitution is dangerous and could be costly to those who do so.” By Paul Hoffman SC, who is a director of Accountability Now and the author of “Confronting the Corrupt”. Published in Daily Maverick.
By Jan Gerber and published in News 24.
“Land reform report: Agriculture groups unhappy about its 'obviously flawed' content.” By Kaveel Singh and published in News 24.
The above matters are updates to the recent previous newsflashes and, for clarity, should be read in conjunction with them.
As a formality I should like to record that the opinions stated above are my own and are made without prejudice to any legal or any other position that may exist insofar as the Broederstroom Land Claim is concerned.
Groete, and don’t forget, encourage all your friends and relations to go to https://www.backabuddy.co.za/26778-land-claim to make their donations.
26778 Land Claim Action Group.
Our bank account details
26778 Land Claim Committee; Standard Bank; Van Der Walt Street PTA.
Clearing Code 010145; Cheque account 410776882.
Please email the deposit slip to email@example.com. Please use your membership number as a reference.
The opinions expressed in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Committee or of the appointed legal team.