Newsflash

Released - 05 January 2020

Dear members
On behalf of the Committee I should like to wish all our members a peaceful, successful and prosperous 2020.

Back in April 2019 we wrote “ - - - the parties agreed that the trial date should be set for the last two weeks of March 2020. So, eleven months until the trial. Eleven months in which to collect another 90 (approximately) POA’s and eleven months in which to raise (approximately) nine hundred thousand Rand. Much to do; for all of us.”

There are now less than three months to the trial and an immense amount of work has been done. The Committee, unpaid volunteers and the legal team have done their very best and are on-track.

The only area that is not performing in line with expectations, is our membership. Sadly the outstanding membership debt, in respect of past subscriptions, still amounts to around R1.3million. If you owe subscription money, PLEASE PAY.

1. Expropriation without Compensation

On 6 December the draft of the bill (Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill) amending the property rights clause (section 25) in the Constitution was published. This draft bill is a cause of great concern. Hitherto changes to property rights (land and improvements thereto) have been protected by the Constitution requiring a two thirds majority. If this bill is passed in its current form only a simple majority in Parliament will be required in the future.   
Effectively:-

  • Property rights will no longer be protected by the Constitution.
  • Expropriation without compensation will be at the whim of members of Parliament.
  • The possibility of all property being nationalised, as the EFF wish, becomes a more significant threat.
  • Property will become a riskier and less desirable asset without yielding a better return. (There will thus be less incentive to own property.)
  • There will be a tendency for properties to decline in value and become more difficult to sell.
  • Financial institutions will be less willing to accept property as collateral for loans, larger deposits will be required and the interest rates on mortgage bonds will rise.

In terms of Parliament’s Notice, the public has until 31 January 2020 to make written submissions on the proposed Bill. They can be emailed to section25@parliament.gov.za. Alternatively, write to Mr V Ramaano, 3rd Floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town, 8000. (An example of an email or letter is included in NOTE 1 at the end of this newsflash.) Perhaps the easiest way to make a submission is by using the service offered by “Dear South Africa”. Just click-on the following address and follow the prompts:-
https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/expropriation-bill/
You can use a smartphone or a computer. Having ‘your say’ should take no longer than 3 minutes.

The following articles deserve your attention:-

Ivo Vegter writing in the Daily Maverick, 11 December 2019. (Ivo Vegter writes from the perspective of individual liberty and free markets.)

Published by the FW de Klerk Foundation, 11 December 2019

Terence Corrigan, a project manager at the Institute of Race Relations, writing in the Daily Maverick, 11 December 2019.

2. The Basis for the Claim on Our Land

One of the things that many of us struggle with is in understanding the basis for the claim on our land. It is, perhaps, particularly hard for those of us who have grown-up in a western culture, where the possession of a title deed is the sole basis for property ownership.
The following notes may help clarify the matter:-

From the outset it is necessary to understand that the plaintiffs (the ‘Claimants’) are not claiming the land on the basis that they ever owned it. Nor are they claiming that it was ever registered in their names, or that they held any formal title to it. They did not. (The deeds office records make that abundantly clear.) The issue of ‘ownership’, as most of us would understand it, is not in dispute.
Rather the plaintiffs are claiming the land on the basis that they, as a community, had some interest in the land.  Interests such as the collection of edible wild plant material (eg African potato, wild garlic), or honey, or muthi, or firewood, or that they trapped wildlife or that they kept a few goats or that they occasionally cultivated small patches of land (maize, sorghum etc ). The legislation (Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994) makes provision for a claim by a community who believe they have been dispossessed of interests in land as a result of past racially discriminatory laws. . . It is this aspect of the legislation that provides the foundation for the claim by the plaintiffs.
It appears that, broadly, the plaintiffs fall into two categories:-

The first category comprises tenant labour. People who were employed on the farms and mines and who, because of their employment as labourers or domestic staff, were provided with accommodation as part of their employment contract. (Today, in much the same way, many gardeners, farm workers and domestic staff are provided with accommodation on the farms and smallholdings where they work.) Some of these tenant labourers may have tended small patches of vegetable garden in their spare time. (Much as many present day domestic workers occasionally cultivate small patches of maze; or chillies to give relief from the flu in winter.)

The second category could be described, politely, as ‘opportunists’.  Folk such as nomads, wanderers, drifters and vagrants.  Perhaps the best term would be ‘hunter-gatherers’. Essentially folk who were trespassing on the farms, with or without the knowledge and consent of the landowner. (Today, in much the same way, ‘opportunists’ collect firewood and muthi and set snares for wild animals. ‘Opportunist’ off-road enthusiasts seek-out the more remote and hilly/muddy bits to test their vehicles and bikes and, every year, the Shembe religious sect trespass on some of the higher slopes to prey.)
However, this claim, as a community claim, is hard to understand on a number of counts – two particularly spring to mind:-

  • Dispossessions for any reason (particularly racial reasons) did not, as far as can be discovered, take place anywhere in the area. The official government records make no mention of any dispossessions and this is supported by the literature and the recollections of long term landowners. (The Nationalist Government was particularly good at record keeping and the dispossessions – Sophiatown, District Six and all the others that took place – were well documented by the administration.)
  • The concept of a community spanning 35 kilometres (from Pelindaba in the west to HartRAO in the east) and covering 17000 hectares is hard to imagine. Perhaps not hard to imagine in the current day and age with modern communication technology – but impossible to imagine at the time the dispossessions were supposed to have taken place in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. Remember, sixty years ago telephones of any sort were scarce and there were no cell phones. Farm radios were restricted to the wealthy. There was no SMS’s, ‘WhatsApp’ or social media. Roads were bad. There were no ‘taxi’s’ and busses were few and far between. To have transmitted a message, from the east end of the area to the west would have involved a walk, of 4 or 5 days, through harsh country. News did not travel quickly. Co-operative ventures, such as the claimants suggest they might have taken part-in as a distributed community that covers the land under claim, would have been extraordinarily difficult to plan and impossible to organise and execute. 

Sixty years ago the whole area was very largely virgin land with a significant quantity of wildlife. It was ‘loosely-held’ in that homesteads were few and far between and infrastructure was generally poor. It was sparsely populated – the total South African population at the time (refer note marked “TIME” below) was around 17 million, as compared to today’s population of nearly 59 million. There were pockets of development, for example where there were easily accessible mineral outcrops that could be mined, or stone that could be quarried or where there was a patch of fertile soil close to a natural water resource that could be used to easily produce crops. But, by and large, the owners (talking here the ‘official’, ‘formal’, ‘registered’, ’titled’ owners) did not make extensive use of the land. In short, sixty years ago Broederstroom and surrounds were much as they are today, but more so! Much, much more so.  And it is worth understanding why. The land is generally mountainous, dry, rocky and infertile. The climate is fairly harsh for crops. (This is not, for example, the winelands of the Western Cape or the Nile river valley.) This is, generally, challenging country for agriculture.
NOTE – TIME
It is not possible to be certain when ‘the time’ of the supposed dispossessions actually was. The Claimants documents, confusingly, talk of the ‘Voortrekkers’ but it would appear that the claim relates to approximately the period of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

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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.

Leon Scholtz

 

Chairman,                                                                             

 

26778 Land Claim Action Group.                                             

Brian Reilly

January, 2020

Scribe

                                                                                                                             
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 accounts@broederstroomlandclaim.co.za.  Please use your membership number as a reference.

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NOTES

1. Example email or letter

Good day Mr V Ramaano.

No I do not support the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill.

*Optional -- Insert here any reasons for your decision to not support the amendment *

Kind regards
Your Name and Surname
Your email address or postal address
Date

 

The opinions expressed in this newsletter are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Committee or of the appointed legal team.

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