Cape Town — Government is working on policy that will allow the Khoi and San people to lodge claims on land lost prior to the 1913 cut-off date, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.
Welcoming the signing into law of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act by President Jacob Zuma, he told reporters at Parliament these communities had not been forgotten.
“As we re-open the lodgement period, we are mindful that there are parts of our community that remain excluded by this process. I refer to the Khoi and the San communities, who are not accommodated by this [act].
“I want to assure them that a policy on the exceptions to the 1913 Natives Land Act cut-off date is being developed, that seeks to address their concerns.”
The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act re-opens a five-year window period – up to 2019 – for South Africans to claim back land from which they were forcibly removed due to the 1913 Natives Land Act and later apartheid laws.
A first period for lodgement was previously opened between 1994 and 1998.
Nkwinti said the situation with the Khoi and San was complex.
“It is actually quite complex, especially in the Western Cape. It is not confined to restitution law, but will create a project over time which will consider the Khoi and San because they were dispossessed much earlier than 1913.”
The Khoi, or Khoikhoi, were the herder people first encountered by early European sailors, settlers and explorers at the Cape. Archaeological evidence suggests they started moving into the region from the north from about 1800 years ago.
They are distinct from the indigenous San, or Bushmen, whose presence across large portions of the sub-continent can be traced back for tens of thousands of years.
There are several groups in South Africa today – especially in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape – who lay claim to Khoikhoi and, to a far lesser extent, San ancestry.
Nkwinti said government had received a report from representatives of both groups.
“We are looking at that. We have got a first report from the Khoi and the San. We have said to them, what do you advise government to do? What do we do about yourselves first, and then about the kind of programme you think we should pursue.”
He would submit the report to the president.