Land restitution and the implementation : A study of the Schmidtsdrift land restitution case
In South Africa land dispossession and land appropriation were legally instituted with the promulgation of the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts and the 1950 Group Areas Act that saw the forced removal of the majority of Black South Africans from their homes and livelihoods. This policy of racial segregation left in its wake countless examples of families and entire communities being uprooted and forced to eke out an existence on land that often had no or little potential for development. The Tswana people who resided on the farm Schmidtsdrift in the Northern Cape is an example of a community that was forced to relocate to a barren piece of land called Kuruman about 140km from Schmidtsdrift. In 1994 with South Africa’s first democratic elections, a number of policy changes were affected that sought to undo the injustice of the past. The Land reform programme initiated by the government provided the Tswana people an opportunity to reclaim their land under the Land Restitiition Act o2 of 1994. The new policy changes were certainly far reaching in addressing the legacy of landlessness but it became clear four years after the initiation of the programme that serious delays with regard to the finalisation of the claims were being experienced. By 1998 only 9 claims of the 26 000 claims lodged with the Commission on the Restitution of Land Claims were finalised. One of the claims that were still awaiting finalisation at this stage was the Schmidtsdrift claim lodged by the Tswana community in November 1996. It is within this landscape of challenges faced by the land restitution process that this research report examined the obstacles, specifically: from 1996 to 1998, experienced by the Schmidtsdrift Restitution Case with regard to the settlement of their claim.