Thoko Didiza says government has spent R22.5 billion on land claims

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza. File Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza. File Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Published Feb 19, 2024


The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has spent R22.5 billion compensating beneficiaries who were forcefully removed from their land during the apartheid era.

This was revealed on Monday during a media briefing by Minister Thoko Didiza while outlining the research findings on the land restitution programme.

According to Didiza, between 2019 and 2023, a total of 1,494 claims were settled and beneficiaries were given an option between money or land transfers.

She said the Constitution explains why some of the land claims have been settled through financial compensations while others via land transfers.

“Since the inception of the land restitution programme, a total of 83,067 land claims have been settled between 1995 and 2023, which equates to 94% of the old-order claims that have been successfully settled.

“About 2.3 million people have benefited from the restitution, where a total of R25 billion was spent on the purchase and transfer of 3.9 million hectares,’’ she said.

The minister emphasised that the forceful removal of black people from their own land is one of the excruciating sins of the apartheid regime.

“The land dispossession not only constrained the economic prosperity of black people but also broke families, alienated communities, and entrenched a deep-rooted trauma and impoverishment for generations to come. It came as no surprise that the land question, especially land restitution, was a key issue for South Africa at the dawn of democracy,” she said.

Since the land restitution programme was initiated, Didiza said beneficiaries have managed to break the cycle of poverty, and families now have the ability to perform cultural activities and spiritually connect with their ancestors.

“In terms of economic well-being, the economic power of the restitution beneficiaries increased by 16%, measured in per capita per month, relative to the control sample.In some cases, this is as high as 36%, of those large land claims

“Regarding psychological well-being, the settlement of the restitution claims significantly reduces the risk of depression by up to 0.15 standard deviation score. This implies that the level of trauma diminishes by 15% rate once the restitution claim is settled,” she said.

In addition, Didiza said that land restitution is not only about financial and economic justice but also psychological and social restoration.

“Without going to each of the policy considerations generated from this study, we must celebrate and welcome the findings of this study as an important milestone not only in South Africa’s long road towards restorative justice but also in the global challenge of effecting reparations to the dispossessed,” she said.

IOL News