South Africa: Old Brakpan Residents, Removed Under Apartheid, Demand Land

"The houses we were allocated in Tsakane are low in value compared to land in Brakpan ... It is only fair that we are returned"

Over 50 elderly people and their families, who were forcefully removed from the old Brakpan Location during apartheid, protested at Faranani Community Hall in Tsakane on Sunday.

They said they the Land Claims Commission has failed to address them regarding the status of their claim to land in Old Brakpan. They are demanding compensation under the Land Restitution Act for the loss of their land or to be given the land back.

According to the Maruping Old Brakpan Committee the Commission had promised to address them but had not pitched up. GroundUp was unable to get comment from the Commission.

Mbuso Mhlope, who is on the Old Brakpan committee, said: "That land is ours and we will not rest until it is given back to us, its rightful owners."

He said efforts to meet with the City of Ekurhuleni as well as the Brakpan Council had all been fruitless.

"The houses we were allocated in Tsakane [at the time of the removal in the 1980s] are low in value compared to land in Brakpan town ... It is only fair that we are returned," said Hlope.

The land is currently occupied by shack dwellers. It is earmarked for a Mega Housing Project. A list of beneficiaries for the project was released by the City a few years ago. The old Brakpan location residents, who now number 2,000, were not on it.

After GroundUp reported on the matter in October 2018, the City released a statement saying it had not been aware the group even existed.

"What happened to government giving the land back to the people? This protest is merely a warning shot, we are planning major action if the government keeps ignoring us," said Kia Hlope, who was born in the old location.

Martina Ngathi, who is 88, said she is too old to return to the land. She said: "The government should compensate me for my land so l can die happy."

Councillor Henry Buitendacht (ANC) of Ward 82, which includes Tsakane, said: "It only just came to my attention that there is such a group of people in my ward. I am going to forward the matter in the council and see how far it goes."

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