From the news desk

Claremont Trust addresses Hassan family claim

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Almost 20 years after submitting a claim for a property in Claremont which they were forced to sell under the Group Areas Act, the Hassan family has been left devastated after the Land Claims Commission reportedly ‘rejected’ their claim. Having recently made an enquiry to the current status of their claim, the family was informed that the money they received at the time of dispossession was a “just and equitable compensation”.

According to reports, at the time when the group areas act was being enforced, the valuation of the property was set at R7 146. A valuer for the commission has uncovered that the family received a total of R7 500, meaning they were overcompensated for their property.

Although the commission has insisted that the claim is still ongoing, the family has called for the matter to be readdressed, taking into account the circumstances of their removal.

The issue has raised the ire of the Claremont Beneficiary Trust, with its chairperson, Neville Hendricks, extremely critical of the commission’s stance. He noted that most of those employed by the Land Claims Commission weren’t around at the time of the forced removals, and had little to no knowledge of the pain and suffering endured by claimants.

“During that time everyone was given a value that was less than their property was worth. The government at the time told us that if you sold for more than what the state valued the property, 50% of that had to come back to the state,” he explained.

He praised the Hassan family, who previously owned a business on Claremont Main Road, describing them as humble people who never wore the extent of their wealth on their sleeves.

The commission has insisted that the family were over compensated a total of R354, a reasonable amount at the time, statements that Hendricks rubbished as “ludicrous”.

“Now they come up with this rubbish that because of R300, these people cannot be compensated. This comes as a shock to us, and definitely the trust will not leave this lying down,” he stated.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has been reluctant to divulge much information on the case itself. Lodgment officer manager, Xolela Batembu, said it was a sensitive matter that formed part of the old claims process. This was out of his jurisdiction, which was focused primarily on the current process. But he reiterated the stance that the matter was ongoing, and that claimants would have the right to appeal the decision.

“Suffice for me to say, the matter is being handled and it is still on going,” he said.

But he also noted that during the process of researching each individual claim, they would conduct an historical evaluation of the property in question. This would also look to determine whether the monies received at the time of dispossession, were equitable.

“We would then look at the difference, assuming there was a difference. If the money was equitable, then there is no way that you can then be re-compensated,” he said.

The Department earlier this year reopened the window period in which land claims may be submitted, extending it for a five year period until the 30th June 2019. The current period is aimed at those who missed out on the previous deadline in 1998. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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