10 June 1998

South Africa: Court returns Vryburg land to deprived community

Pretoria — A community of more than 600 families who lost their land near Vryburg in the North West Province is to move back after the Land Claims Court ordered that the land be restored.

Regional restitution commissioner Emma Mashinini said yesterday the Dithakwaneng community had to move away in 1969 in terms of the previous government's black spot policy and forced removals.

Subsequently the land remained the property of the state and talks between the parties led to an agreement, ratified by the court, that the land be restored.

The claim was the eighth to be finalised by the court, leaving a further 21 that have so far reached the court.

The total number of claims before the restitution commission - which deals with claims before they go to the court - was 25 000, with more than 20 000 in urban areas.

However, restitution commission spokesman Thys Human said the number of urban claims was deceptive as in several cases, like Cato Manor in KwaZulu-Natal and District Six in Cape Town, a single area handled as a group claim consisted of thousands of individual claims.

Meanwhile, Land and Agriculture Minister Derek Hanekom has urged any would-be claimants to submit claims before the December deadline.

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