As part of government’s effort to accelerate land reform, the Covie community in the Western Cape received 764 000 hectares of land after a successful land claim.
The community lost their land and land rights under the apartheid government in 1978.
Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform, presided over the ceremony that handed over the land and title deeds to the community.
The land will positively impact 411 households, providing new opportunities for them to gain financial freedom.
Deputy President Mabuza said the land is rich with agricultural and eco-tourism opportunities.
“We appeal to the Covie community to use this land effectively for heritage purposes, commercial activities and agricultural activities,” he said.
The Deputy President added that government is ready to support the community to ensure the land is used in a sustainable way that will benefit families and the community as well as preserve their heritage.
“The restoration of land ownership to its rightful owners is not only an act of social justice, but it is also a necessary step to unlock the developmental potential of this area.”
Agricultural support initiatives by government will be aimed at improving the productive capacity of restituted land, to ensure that the beneficiaries have access to finances, infrastructure and inputs for crop production.
“Part of the post-settlement support from government will have to focus on the provision of critical service delivery infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water and sanitation to support economic mobility and improved quality of life for the community," said the Deputy President.
In line with government’s District Development Model, national government will work together with the provincial and local government to ensure the full potential of the land is realised.
The land claim was lodged by Irene Bernardo, who is a descendent of one of the original inhabitants of Covie.
“We salute her courageous act, which is a recognition of the prominent role played by women in society, and the affirmation of their equal right to land and its inheritance.
“Her trust in government to respond to the claim and return the land of her forefathers shall remain an act of heroism that will go into the history books,” said the Deputy President.
He added that Bernardo's actions showed that women have been and remain at the forefront of the efforts to attain freedom.