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ConCourt upholding move to appoint land claims special master hailed

The Association for Rural Advancement said that the apex court’s decision would ensure that government departments implement claims made by labour tenants.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the Land Claims Court judgment to appoint a special master to oversee land claims has been hailed as a game-changer.

The Association for Rural Advancement said that the apex court’s decision would ensure that government departments implement claims made by labour tenants.

The association was one of the applicants in the case on behalf of 11,000 claimants.

The Association for Rural Advancement’s Siyabonga Sithole said that the Rural Development and Land Reform Department which was responsible for the processing of claims would now have to act on the backlog of cases it failed to process over the years.

The matter which was decided on by the Constitutional Court dated back to 2001, with 11,000 labour tenants waiting for government to act on their claim against the prestigious Hilton College estate in KwaZulu-Natal.

Sithole explains: "It changes the game totally. This is a first in our country, it is the first time that a court has appointed a special master. The master is an independent person outside of the department who will be tasked with playing a monitoring role, in effect being an extension of the court."

Meanwhile, trade union federation Cosatu said that the judgment proved that the government could not continue complaining about judicial overreach when it consistently failed the people it was meant to serve.

Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla: "It is unfortunate that we are seeing a lot of court interventions when it comes to government incompetence."

The Land Reform Department has a backlog of over 70,000 land restitution cases.

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