Land settlement

Opposing groups from the Richtersveld community came face-to-face in the Land Claims Court in Cape Town yesterday, as the court prepared to weigh-up a settlement agreement.

Opposing groups from the Richtersveld community came face-to-face in the Land Claims Court in Cape Town yesterday, as the court prepared to weigh-up a settlement agreement.

The agreement was reached in April this year between the state and the Richtersveld Sida !hub Communal Property Association (CPA), which had represented the community through its marathon restitution battle with the go-vernment.

However, now that the court is being asked to ratify the agreement as a formal settlement of the Richtersvelders' land claim, a community "Action Committee" is seeking to block it.

The committee's advocate, Barto du Plessis, told Judge Antonie Gildenhuys yesterday morning that the group wanted to be allowed a voice in the proceedings.

He said it had problems with the way the agreement was accepted by the community, and with the content of the agreement itself. Gerrit Grobler, for the government and Alexkor, objected to the committee being admitted as a party, saying if individual community members had problems with the way the CPA acted, they should act in terms of the CPA constitution.

Advocate Andrew Breitenbach, for the CPA, was granted an adjournment so he could study a set of replying papers from the action committee, and consult his clients.

The community lodged its claim to 84000 hectares of diamond-bearing land on the Namaqualand coast in 1998.

The land is currently occupied by the diamond mining parastatal Alexkor.

The agreement proposes the return of the land to the community, plus the creation of a joint mining venture with the financially-troubled Alexkor. - Sapa

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