Wallmansthal community finally wins back their land

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

On Saturday 88-year-old Raisobe Malema shed tears of joy and gave her title deed a long kiss.

"We lost more than just land. We are a generation disconnected from our heritage, taken out of our livelihoods and thrown into poverty.

"Today we are rising from the ashes," said Malema, shortly after she and 4270 other Wallmansthal community members reclaimed their land outside Pretoria.

Malema's emotions were echoed by 78-year-old Sebinah Sebopa. With her eyes closed and arms raised Sebopa said: "The Lord has blessed me with witnessing this day. This day proves that good will always triumph over evil."

Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Lulama Xingwana did the honours.

She signed and handed over title deeds and land registration certificates to the community.

The Wallmansthal community, victims of the Native Land Act of 1913, was forcefully removed from the ancestral land they had been occupying since 1867.

They were resettled in Soshanguve, Hammanskraal, Klipgat and Mabopane in the 1960s.

Xingwana announced that those who had opted for land would receive R4440 in settlement planning and restitution development grants for every household.

Another R2,5million development subsidy had been allocated to initiate community projects. About R3million was paid to 365 claimants who had opted for financial compensation in 2002.

"Because many held title deeds before dispossession, about 1200ha would be restored in individual titles.

"The remainder would be held communally. There are plans to use the military base as part of an adventure route and wildlife breeding centre," said Xingwana.

Chairman of the Wallmans- thal Communal Property Association and former president of Soweto Chamber of Commerce, Walter Mokoape, said the settlement was a milestone in redressing past injustices.