The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform are planning to take the land claims process to those unable to access the department’s official lodgment offices, in particular those in the more remote parts of the country. This process will be done through the launch of four new mobile offices, which will target specific provinces and communities therein.
“These busses are going to be utilized in all the provinces. In fact, the provinces have been arranged in clusters, and there will be a bus that will be serving the Northern Cape, Western Cape, and Free State (regions),” explained department spokesperson Vuyani Nkasayi.
The move comes amidst an intensive on the part of government to maximize the number potential claimants, which has already seen great numbers since the lodgment process reopened in July 2013. Since then, 54 000 people have submitted claims nationally, 30 000 shy of the amount that submitted prior to the 1998 deadline.
The mobile centers are expected to operate within the Western Cape from the first week of July onwards, following a stop in the Free State.
There have been general complaints amongst the broader South African population as to a ‘lengthy and slow’ restitution process, and some have questioned whether the new centers may further burden the system. But Nkasayi was adamant in his assurances that the initiative was a positive one on the part of the department, and will allow them to address claims ‘as they come’.
Further helping to speed up the process is the fact that claims are no longer submitted via forms, but rather in person by the claimant themselves. This is now done through capturing the individual’s information and details via an electronic system.
“This will also allow us to move claims faster, because we will be able to monitor the number of claims that have been lodged in the office per day, per hour, and per second,” he stated.
The Minister of Rural Development, Gugile Nkwinti officially launched the new mobile offices in parliament on Tuesday. They vehicles are expected to be operational until 2019, when the lodgment period is expected to shut. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)