91-year-old man fights for the return of his grandfather's land

22 July 2018 - 00:00 By AMIL UMRAW

The story of a 91-year-old man who has been waging a battle for 49 years - more than half his life - to claim his ancestral home in Rustenburg made for a compelling hearing in North West this week.
Dressed smartly in a blue suit and black faux-fur hat, Galatlhwe Isaac Mogale, leaning on his cane, spoke earnestly and passionately about his last-ditch attempt to find help in securing a 345ha chunk of farmland that belonged to his grandfather so that he, now a grandfather himself, can leave behind an inheritance for his family.
Mogale was one of hundreds of community members who arrived in Rustenburg on Thursday for public hearings by parliament's constitutional review committee on whether to amend section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property rights, to allow for land expropriation without compensation.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mogale - who lives in a village near Cyferskuil, where his family was relocated to in 1967 - described his three-hour journey to speak to the committee about his efforts to reclaim the land since 1969."I had to wake up very early and take a bus to Rustenburg. Then from Rustenburg to the civic centre [where the hearings were held] we had to take taxis. It was a long and expensive journey and I'm only living on grant money ... My wife has passed away, I live by myself. Nobody is here to help me," he said.
"I live alone, the same way I have been fighting alone for my grandfather's land. My case was referred to Legal Resources Centre. They gave me a man who went through the case and I got my title deed. These are the documents. A letter was issued that I should not move onto the farm without the government's permission," he said, flipping through a folder, worn by use.
According to Mogale's documentation, the LRC lodged a land claim on the family's behalf in December 1998. At the time, the family consisted of 151 households, 87 of which were female-headed.
Ten years later, the LRC made another submission on behalf of the family to the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights. The submission was addressed to the chief land claims officer. According to the submission, a portion of the farmBlinkklippen was sold to Mogale's grandfather, Jonas Moeletsi, and his two sons in 1913 for 511 pounds.But in 1936, the Native Government registered the family's property to the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe, without informing the family. Eventually, the property was transferred to the government of Bophuthatswana in terms of the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act.
Not everybody who spoke at the hearing shared Mogale's positive sentiment on land expropriation without compensation.
Rustenburg resident Rubosweni Mmelene said he wanted to support the constitutional amendment, but feared the effects of rampant corruption in North West.
"I understand 87% of land belongs to whites. I want to agree with the amendment but because of the corruption in this province, it is difficult," he said.
"People are made traditional leaders when they are not, and this opens up for corruption," he said.
Another resident, Sarel van der Westhuizen, said expropriation without compensation would "bankrupt the country".

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