Court battle looming over massive WC land claim

In 2014, the community of Ebenhaeser – located about 40km from Vredendal - reached an agreement with the Land Reform Department to return to land forcibly taken from it and their relatives in 1926.

Picture: SAPS.

CAPE TOWN - A court battle is looming over a multi-million rand land restitution claim said to be the biggest in the Western Cape.

In 2014, the community of Ebenhaeser – located about 40km from Vredendal - reached an agreement with the Land Reform Department to return to land forcibly taken from it and their relatives in 1926.

The department, as well as the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, have however told the Western Cape Legislature that some farmers are disputing the validity of the claim.

The initial claim, worth R360 million, included 1,900 hectares of state-owned land.

It also comprised more than 1500 hectares of privately owned commercial land along the Olifants River in the West Coast region.

Chief Land Claims Commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo says that part of the process has stalled because 22 farmers have taken legal action.

"This group which have 1183 hectares are disputing the validity of the claim."

The community of Ebenhaeser, through a trust, took control of some farms last year but some claimants have complained they haven’t received enough government support.