How COVID-19 is putting the brakes on SA’s land claims process

Members of Parliament’s committees on agriculture and land reform were informed about the situation during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

FILE: The commission had aimed to settle just over 2,000 claims over the next five years, with 2,200 claims to be finalised over the same period. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The COVID-19 crisis has put the brakes on the land claims process, Parliament was told on Tuesday.

The Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights said it had to slash its targets for settling and finalising land claims for this financial year due to the lockdown, and the dangers of spreading the virus.

Members of Parliament’s committees on agriculture and land reform were informed about the situation during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

Sunjay Singh, chief director of the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights, said they had to revise their target of settling 454 land claims this financial year.

“After we got hit with COVID-19 round about March, we had to review that 454 [target] that was there. And the target we’ve come to is a figure of 244 for the settlement of claims,” Singh said.

Singh said the target for the finalisation of land claims had also been cut from 479 to 295.

“The reason for that is in terms of the work we need to do, it is a lot of engagement with people and communities – in terms of doing verification, the signing of settlement agreements, and stakeholder analysis,” he said.

The commission had aimed to settle just over 2,000 claims over the next five years, with 2,200 claims to be finalised over the same period.

The virtual meeting was told that 7,743 claims were still outstanding from 1998, most of them in KwaZulu-Natal (3,415), Mpumalanga (1,412) and Limpopo (1,192).

There were 695 outstanding claims in the Eastern Cape, 495 in the Western Cape, 441 in Gauteng, 51 in the Northern Cape, 37 in North West, and five in the Free State.