While the Upington residents hold divergent views on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, they were united in their call for the settlement of the outstanding land claims during the public hearings that took place in Upington today.
Several residents referred to the destitution of the Upington communities, stating that many families are still waiting for the settlement of their land claims. They told the delegation of the committee that the state should first address the institutional challenges that delay the finalisation of the land claims that were submitted several years ago. Those who highlighted the problem of the outstanding land claims, said that the expropriated land should not be under the custodianship of the state, but must be given to the legitimate and rightful owners.
The residents who disagreed with the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution highlighted negative implications of the amendment on the economy of the country at large, and on the value of the land itself. Furthermore, they reiterated the call for the separation of the outstanding land claims and the current call for land redistribution. They said land reform should take place responsibly, and must not threaten investment opportunities and food security.
Notwithstanding the reiteration of the views against the amendment, there were more residents in the same venue who called for the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution. They argued that the commercial farmers in the Upington area are not showing a willingness to assist the historically disadvantaged and poverty-stricken communities.To show the unwillingness of the farmers to voluntarily share the land with their historically marginalised South Africans, one of the participants told the delegation about a situation where 85 people share three small houses on a farm and where there are no ablution facilities.
Speaking on behalf of the Khoisan people in the area, Mr Stanley Peterson told the delegation they support the expropriation of the land not just from the commercial farms only, but from across the minority that had immorally, illegally and violently grabbed the land from its rightful owners. "We don't necessarily want the commercial farms, because they are a source of employment for our people and where they work," he said.
There were residents who were neutral on the issue of the expropriation of the land, who just called for unity and national cohesion. One of them said: "let justice prevail among us. We should not focus on political parties or race. All people must live in peace, we must not see each other as whites, blacks and coloureds."
The leader of the delegation, Dr Mathole Motshekga, thanked the residents of Upington for their valuable and insightful contributions during the hearings. He said the Northern Cape Province is faced with many land-related challenges that need to be addressed. Dr Motshekga said: "The interest of the people spans across party boundaries, and each member present will continue to fight to improve the lives of South Africans. We are happy that the people of the Northern Cape realise that this exercise is part of nation-building initiative and that all of us, black and white, should join hands and make it a success, to ensure that we build a strong South Africa and a strong Northern Cape which can be the breadbasket of the country."