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Land hearings evoke emotions in the Eastern Cape

Written by Siya Miti

Emotions were high during the Eastern Cape leg of the hearings on the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution as residents spoke about disposition and losing their wealth.

The hearings were held at the Orient Theatre in East London.Vuyani Mtiki who attended the Eastern Cape leg of the hearings on the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution.

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

Parliament called on the public to make their voices heard in the debate, through hearings taking part across the country.

Phathekile Phumaphi grew up hearing stories of how his family was removed from their land in Butterworth.

“I was born in Nkondwane in Butterworth. We were removed in 1977 and driven away to Komga because the land we occupied was going to be given to white people.”

“When we arrived at Komga we settled on another farm that belonged to a white farmer who did not want people with cattle. He wanted labourers. People who had cows were not welcome in the farms and were given an option of selling their cattle to white farmers for a place to stay,” said Phumaphi.

He said some of the families sold their cattle for next to nothing.

“I want Section 25 of the Constitution to be amended so that our land can be returned to us. Land is essential. Land is dignity. Homes are built on land. Black people grew up farming on land. The food we eat comes from land. We are going to use our land to farm,” Phumaphi said.  

Thembinkosi Doto (60) from Ngqushwa said his father was forced to sell over a dozen cattle for R15 each while working for a farmer who paid him R3 per month.

“There was a policy that black people could not own more than four cows. Whenever a black person had five cows or more they had to sell their cattle to the white farmer for R15. We are here to make our voices,” said Doto.

Michael Aliber (54) said he was not in favour of amending Section 25 of the Constitution and would opt for accelerating land reform.

“Land reform must be done in a way that makes sense for the country. The government has to dedicate more resources to land reform. The reason we are here is because land reform has not been a priority for the last 24 years.”

“I understand that people are emotional about it but they are jumping to the conclusion that amending Section 25 of the Constitution is the only way out of this impasse but it is not,” said Aliber.

So far the hearings have taken place in KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo and are continuing in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. Next week they will be taking place in the Western Cape.