President Jacob Zuma’s nephew is being reported to have lodged land claims targeting more than 60 farms in Impendle in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, allegations CNBC Africa could not independently confirm.
Bheki Mbili, head of restitution in the department of rural development and land reform told CNBC Africa that the land claims had been opened after a number of people had made representations to the department.
“They indicated that when the first land claims case was opened our communication strategy could not enable us to reach every corner of the country as a result they did not manage to get the message,” said Mbili.
“They are also communities, which when they lodged their claims, had left out certain properties which they were dispossessed of.”
This led to the reopening of the land claims process.
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Mbili noted that in the initial phase a number of mistakes were encountered as the country lacked precedence.
“It was a new programme as there has never been restitution in the country before the advent of democracy,” added Mbili.
“There were problems with the completion of the claims forms and consequently some information was left out.”
There was also a court decision ruling that properties which were not included in the claims form could not be processed.
In terms of historical information on dispossession a significant number of communities were disposed which demonstrates striking discrepancy if compared with the number of claims made.
He allayed fears to the farming community that the land claims were not supposed to be viewed as a threat.
“Restitution is not here to be a threat to social and economic development and to all farming activities,” he noted.
“We have tried to ensure that we protect productivity in the land sector that’s what we are going to do when we process land claims in this new dispensation.”
Mbili said his department was the first to admit that in the implementation of the programme in terms of the first phase, there are lessons that were learnt which would ensure things are done differently.