It is important for Knysna Municipality that its residents are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. So, although the restitution of land rights is not the responsibility of municipalities, Council wants to ensure that those members of our community who lost land due to racial laws and practices are kept up to date on the land claims process.
In terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, Act 22 of 1994, claims for restitution of land should have been lodged by 31 December 1998. About 2 000 claimants registered their claims in Knysna, either as an individual claim, or as part of a community claim. However, a national evaluation of the restitution programme has shown that there are many people, in Knysna and elsewhere in the country, who were excluded from the process before 1998 for a number of reasons. Because of this the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform have amended the Restitution Act to allow for people to lodge claims until 30 June 2019.
In the country there are about 8 700 claims which were lodged before the 1998 cut-off date but have not yet been resolved, while others have only been settled in part. These outstanding claims will be processed simultaneously with the new claims, with priority being given to those that were lodged before 1998. If you have an outstanding claim you must not re-lodge a claim, but should rather approach the Commission to find out what progress has been made with your outstanding claim.
People who lost land rights and now want to submit a claim must go to their nearest lodgement centre. For Knysna residents this means they must visit the Commission offices in George, at Shamrock Place in York Street, behind the FNB. The contact number is 044-874 0021. The Commission has also bought a number of mobile office units that will go to identified areas in all the provinces to enable any claimant who cannot go to their offices to claim. Information on all the lodgement offices is also available on www.ruraldevelopment.gov.za.
When you go to lodge your claim the following information will be needed:
- A certified copy of your South African green bar-coded identity document or Smart ID card.
- A signed letter authorizing you to act on behalf of your family or community, signed by two witnesses (power of attorney), if you are acting on behalf of your family or community.
- A list of the people you represent.
- The description of the property, e.g. farm name and number or erf or stand number in an urban area.
- Information about the department or state organ that acquired the land, e.g. Department of Native Affairs.
- The year the land was taken away.
- What money or compensation was given at the time, if any?
- Details of the person who lost the right.
- Details of the claimant and the capacity in which you are acting, e.g. community representative, son, executor of an estate, etc.
- History of land dispossession.
Your documentation will be captured electronically on the Commission’s computer system and a notification of receipt will be issued to you immediately. If you do not receive a notification letter, your claim has not been properly submitted, so please insist on a notification letter before you leave the Commission offices. This letter will contain your unique reference number, which you will need to give the Commission whenever you are following up on your claim. It is very important that you do not lose this number.
Commission staff must assist you in completing your claim and you are not allowed to take the claims forms away from the offices. No claims forms will be distributed to members of the public and no one is required to pay any money to lodge a claim. If you are asked for payment, it is illegal and must be reported immediately.
You can phone the toll-free number 0800 007 095 or contact the provincial office for information on progress on your claim.
This press release issued by Knysna Municipality.