Thoko Didiza sorry for farmer's 17-year wait to get land

Farmer David Rakgase struggled for 17 years to buy back leased land from the state. /Gallo Images/ Netwerk24/Deon Raath
Farmer David Rakgase struggled for 17 years to buy back leased land from the state. /Gallo Images/ Netwerk24/Deon Raath

Thoko Didiza, the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, has, on behalf of government, issued an apology to Limpopo farmer David Rakgase, who struggled for more than 17 years to buy leased land from the state.

Didiza, the keynote speaker at the Afasa Agri-business transformation conference in Bloemfontein on Monday, told Food For Mzansi: "We already withdrew [our application for leave to appeal] because there was no consultation with the political authority, meaning myself, in that matter.

"We actually have to extend our apologies to farmer Rakgase. Indeed, his matter should have been resolved long ago," she said.

Last month, Sowetan sister publication Times Select reported that Rakgase, 78, who has been farming for the past 27 years on Nooitgedacht farm, secured a landmark ruling when the Gauteng North High Court found the government's inability to sell the land to him was irrational and unconstitutional.

Rakgase told Food For Mzansi: "I'm so relieved after fighting for all these years. This judgment means we can progress, because my children were born into agriculture and now we can keep the family legacy going."

DA MP Annette Steyn said she welcomed Didiza's announcement.

"Justice has finally been served in the Rakgase matter and the DA trusts that Mr Rakgase will continue to work his land successfully so that he can leave a proud legacy for his future generations. The DA calls on more farmers to come forward and contact the party to help them become landowners."

SowetanLIVE's sister publication Times Select reported previously that Rakgase had initially leased the farm from the then Bophuthatswana government.

In 2003, the department of agriculture approved his application to purchase the farm through the then Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development Programme (LRAD).

Through the LRAD he was loaned 50 Nguni cattle that he used for breeding.

At the time of his founding affidavit before court, the herd had increased to 147.

The total number of livestock on the farm was 500 cattle, 30 pigs, 80 sheep and 130 goats.

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