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KZN land hearings bring hope

Hlengiwe Ngobese

Rose Khumalo (62) is one of the hundreds of people who braced the cold and stood in a long que outside the Pietermaritzburg town hall in KwaZulu-Natal so that her voice can be heard by Parliament on the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution.

A committee was set up by Parliament which was given the task of reviewing Section 25 of the Constitution to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation.

Parliament invited the public to participate in the debate, through a series of hearings and by engaging with the committee.

Khumalo hitchhiked all the way from Escourt because she did not have money to catch a taxi to attend the hearing. An emotional Khumalo told her story that she had a four-year-old child in 1977 when a white farmer forced her family to leave their land in Bergville.

She said there were about 20 families that were forcefully removed and displaced to different locations in Estcourt.Hundreds of locals came out in their numbers at the Pietermaritzburg Town hall in KwaZulu-Natal to share their views on the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution.

Khumalo said her family member’s gravesite were left on the farm and have been turned into a cattle kraal by the farmer.

“If government can be able to give the land back to its rightful owners we will die in peace knowing that we have won this battle," she said.

Mthobisi Khumalo said his late grandmother Nozizwe Khumalo would speak in sadness about the land she was removed from in a farm in New Hannover.

"I have taken initiative to fight this land issue on her behalf. She used to tell us that the farmer took about 40 cows that belonged to my grandfather and they didn't get a cent," Mthobisi said.

Peter Woods on the other hand said the land belongs to all who live on it.

"I appeal before this committee to consider the land policy before they agree on anything in Parliament and also consider the law," Woods said.

Another farmer Norman Thompson said “I bought my farm with a loan l took from the land bank. I treasure my land so much especially since l am still paying for it,” Thompson said.

Committee Chair Louis Nzimande added that he was happy with the progress on the land hearings with people coming out in their numbers which shows that there is interest from the public.

The public hearings have been taking place across the country since last month. This week Eastern Cape residents will be sharing their views on the matter.