S. African black community to reclaim dispossed land

CAPE TOWN, Oct. 13 — A black community in KwaZulu-Natal Province will be given full ownership of land seized by whites as part of the government’s program of land reform and restitution, the Presidency said on Friday.
The KwaMkwanazi community will receive title deeds as well as post-settlement packages and support that will assist the community in leveraging the potential wealth of the land, said the Presidency.
The support packages will enable sustainable management of the land, the creation of employment opportunities and the alleviation of poverty, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
A ceremony to hand over the 4,586 hectares of land will take place on Sunday, to be attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Diko said.
The KwaMkwanazi community was forcibly removed from their land in three phases following the enactment of the apartheid government’s 1913 Land Act. From 1915 to 1918, the first dispossession took place to the KwaMkhwanazi people as a result of returning World War I white soldiers.
The second phase of dispossession took place in the 1940s, when the white farming community expanded their commercial interests in timber and cane.
Between 1958 and 1960 at the height of apartheid supremacy, the government violently removed landowners to cater for the expansion of the white community around Richards Bay and the Mthunzini coast.
In recent years, the affected community submitted claims for the return of land administered by the King Cetshwayo District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
The community’s successful claim will see 1,656 claimants regain ownership of their ancestral land, according to the Presidency.
Since Ramaphosa became president in February, the government has accelerated the program of land reform and restitution, characterized by expropriation of land without compensation.
This has sparked criticism both at home and abroad.
AgriForum, a lobby group for South African white farmers, has launched an international campaign to get the South African government to stop its land reform.
The group insists that land expropriation without compensation will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.
U.S. President Donald Trump has lambasted the South African government for seizing land from white farmers and has asked his Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to closely study the South African land seizures and expropriation, and the large-scale killing of farmers.
Ramaphosa has repeatedly said his country’s land reform and restitution will be pursued in a manner that is effective, constitutional and sustainable.