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‘We’ve failed in land restitution’

“There should be no question whether people should own land or not. It goes without saying that every South African who was dispossessed of their land must get it back.”

This, according to Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela.

He was speaking at the Mooiwater title deed handover ceremony at the Franschhoek Town Hall last week.

According to Madikizela, people who have been given land through restitution efforts since 1994 were not financially supported so that they can use that land productively.

He said: “The reality is that almost 90% of South Africans who received land through land restitution since 1994 sold that land back. It’s very sad. Some land was productive, but because of the failure in support that land now lies fallow. We failed our people when it comes to land reform.”

The Minister said it is importent that people who are given agricultural land be supported, and that they be given title deeds so they can legally own the land.

According to Madikizela, many also used their properties to make money, and he told the new homeowners that they are now part of an elite group of people owning property in South Africa.

“The mistake we make is that we look only at one aspect,” he said. “We must look further and educate our people so they can understand what it means to be a property owner. We need to teach people how to get value by trading with their property and not to discourage them from doing it.

“People ask me all the time what I’m gonna do about people renting out their properties. I’m not gonna do anything. Why are they doing it? Many people are unemployed, so when they get houses they see it as a way of making an income. We must assist people in doing that properly, so that we can deal with two challenges. These people are responding to shortages of houses, but also to the challenges of not having food on the table.”

Madikizela said property ownership is not just about building houses. “The reality is we will never have enough money to build a house for everyone,” he said.

“We need land in South Africa. We need to service the land and transfer that land to people. We need to fast-track land access for people. Then they can save and build their own homes. People are very innovative.”

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