Minister receives Eastern Cape land claim
East London - Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on Thursday received a land claim from a group representing communities in the Eastern Cape.
"The land claim was received from the Vulamasango Singene group during an event to mark the launch of the re-opening of land claims process in East London," the department said.
"The Vulamasango Singene campaign was launched in 2002 by a large group of communities in the Eastern Cape who were victims of the betterment policy."
Under betterment scheme, designated areas were divided into distinct land use zones for residential, arable and grazing usage.
People were forced into the demarcated zones.
"Betterment planning was implemented in the former homelands and other so-called self-governing states from the 1930s into the 1970s, in an attempt to regulate these areas and control land usage," it said.
More than 170 000 households were dispossessed of their land in the former Ciskei and Transkei through the policy.
The system forced communities into reserves where they shared much smaller and less arable spaces.
This year, President Jacob Zuma signed into law the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which signalled the reopening of the lodgement of land claims for individuals, families and communities who missed the initial 31 December 1998 deadline, the department said.
"We can no longer afford to ignore the plight of the most vulnerable of our people to receive what is rightfully theirs - the land of their forefathers. Amasango avuliwe [the gates are open]," said Nkwinti.
The department said at least 10 155 land claims had been lodged at the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights lodgement sites across the country since the re-opening of claims on 1 July.